Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1195, now being fast tracked through Pennsylvania’s legislative process, seeks to limit injured workers’ access to the Pennsylvania Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund (“UEGF”). If a Pennsylvania employer fails to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance, it is the UEGF that steps in to provide benefits to injured workers. Limiting injured employees’ access to the UEGF could cause financial distress for many Pennsylvania injured workers.
If the proposed amendments are passed, it will become more difficult for many employees to receive the Workers’ Compensation benefits to which they are entitled due to additional time restrictions. An injured worker will be required to notify the UEGF within 45 days after he or she has been advised by their employer or other sources that the employer has no insurance. This is a lower standard than present and would preclude an award if the employee fails to notify the UEGF within the allotted time. An employee must file a claim petition against the UEGF within 120 days or the claim will be barred.
Senate Bill 1995 also seeks to establish a list of panel health care providers for each county. If an injured worker does not treat with one of the panel care providers, the UEFG will not be responsible for the payment of those medical bills.
Employees attempting to bring claims against employers not “domiciled” in Pennsylvania and who do not have Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation coverage will be most severely affected by the proposed legislation. In those cases the employee will not be able to submit their claim to the UEGF until the employee can demonstrate that they have sought and are not entitled to benefits from the employer’s other state.
Even the amount of compensation due to an employee will be affected if this legislation is passed. For example, the UEGF will no longer be required to pay interest on back due compensation. The UEGF remains immune to penalties and unreasonable contest fees. The UEGF also will not be liable for wage loss benefits unless the employee can document their wages through a check, stub, payroll record, tax return or testimony directly from the uninsured employer as to wages.
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For more information about Senate Bill 1195 and how it may affect your Workers’ Compensation claim, contact the experienced Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Galfand Berger. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, including the Harrisburg and Allentown regions, as well as the Southern New Jersey. Call us at 1-800-222-8792 or contact us online to schedule your consultation today.