Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund
But what if you hurt yourself at work, notify your employer, and learn that they don’t have Workers’ Comp insurance? While Pennsylvania law requires employers to maintain Workers’ Comp insurance for their employers — and can be criminally charged if they don’t — many employers, particularly small employers, fail to carry Workers’ Comp insurance.
What happens in this situation? Are you out of luck because your employer doesn’t have insurance? Fortunately, you have recourse because Pennsylvania has a fund called the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund — called the UEGF for short. Under this scenario, you will need to file a claim against the UEGF.
Your case will be heard by a Workers’ Compensation judge. Your employer likely will not have a lawyer because if they didn’t have the money to purchase Workers’ Comp. insurance, they probably won’t have the means to hire a lawyer. The UEGF, however, will be assigned a lawyer by the state to defend your claim.
If the judge rules in your favor and awards you Workers’ Comp. benefits, don’t expect to get paid quickly. If your employer has Workers’ Comp insurance — through Liberty Mutual, PMA, Hartford, or another company — you will be paid the past benefits you are owed within 30 days (unless an appeal of the judge’s decision is filed). But if the UEGF is involved in your case because your employer is uninsured, the judge will find that your employer is primarily liable and the UEGF is secondarily liable. In other words, your employer will have 30 days to pay the money that you’re owed and if they don’t (which they almost certainly will not), then the UEGF has to step in and make payment. The problem is, because the UEGF is funded by the state, they have limited financial resources, and it may take them several months before they have the funds to pay you. While an insurance company can be penalized if they don’t pay you on a timely basis (they don’t pay you within 30 days of the judge’s decision), the UEGF cannot be penalized. And while an insurance company is required to pay 10 percent interest annually on back benefits, the UEGF does not have to pay interest. The law relieves the UEGF of the obligation to pay penalties and interest because, unlike insurance companies, they have limited finances.
Whether or not your employer has Workers’ Compensation insurance, you do not want to handle your claim by yourself. You need a Workers’ Comp lawyer to represent you and navigate you through the complicated process. You need the lawyers at Pearson Koutcher Law — one of their experienced, knowledgeable lawyers will fight for you and obtain for you the benefits that you deserve.