In Pennsylvania, state law requires that an employer maintain workers’ compensation insurance for any employer who employs at least one employee who: could be injured in Pennsylvania; could be injured outside of Pennsylvania if the employment is principally localized in Pennsylvania; or, could be injured outside of Pennsylvania, while under a contract of hire in Pennsylvania, if the employment is not principally localized in any state, if the employment is principally localized in a state whose workers compensation laws do not apply, or the employment is outside the United States and Canada. There are some exceptions, including federal workers, longshoremen, railroad workers, casual workers (casual employment and not in the regular course of the business of the employer), domestic workers and agricultural workers (who earn less than $1,200 per year while working less than 30 hrs per year). Otherwise, your employer must maintain workers’ compensation insurance!
What if my employer did not have workers compensation when I was injured?
In 2006, the Pennsylvania legislature adopted Act 147, which created the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund, for the exclusive purpose of paying to any injured worker workers’ compensation benefits due and payable under the Workers’ Compensation Act where the employer liable for payments fails to maintain insurance. Prior thereto, if an employer did not maintain workers’ compensation insurance, the remedy for the injured worker was to proceed directly against the employer in a civil action (most likely negligence), which was often difficult due to the different burden of proof associated with a civil claim, or seek workers’ compensation benefits directly from the employer. In either scenario, the likelihood of a recovery was small, as the assets of the uninsured employer would need to be substantial to satisfy the claim of the injured worker, which often was not the case.
What benefits am I entitled to if I pursue a claim against the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund?
An employee who files a claim for workers’ compensation benefits against the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund seeks the same benefits (wage loss and payment of medical expenses) as if there was an insurance company involved in the case. In other words, there is no difference in what the injured worker can potentially receive from the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund as opposed to a private insurance company or an employer who is self insured. There are some differences in the enforcement of a claim against the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund, such as the inability to request penalties or seek unreasonable contest.
What should I do if my employer did not have workers compensation insurance and I was injured at work?
Don’t delay! There are strict notice requirements that must be followed. The Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund must be made aware that a claim is potentially being filed within 45 days when theinjured worker became aware that the employer did not maintain workers compensation insurance. Placing the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund on notice of the claim is a prerequisite to filing a claim for benefits. A separate and specific Claim Petition for benefits against the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund cannot be filed unless the injured worker first provides timely notice.
The Philadelphia workers’ compensation law firm Pearson Koutcher Law has substantial experience handling claims against the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund. Since the inception of Act 147 and the creation of the Uninsured Employer Guaranty Fund, attorneys at PearsonKoutcher, LLP have enjoyed success pursuing benefits and litigating claims on behalf of clients with work injuries where the employer did not maintain workers compensation insurance. Our attorneys can guide you through the process of filing a claim, inform you about the benefits that are available and protect your interests fully and without delay.
Let us put our decades of experience to work for you, helping you navigate the complexities of the Workers’ Compensation laws.