Every employer in Pennsylvania must carry PA workers’ compensation insurance (unless exempted for some reason, such as qualifying to insure itself). The failure to carry workers’ comp insurance is a criminal act, one punishable by a fine and/or incarceration. Unfortunately, not all employers in PA obey the law. As we have discussed over the years, PA has a fund for injured workers when no insurance is present, called the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund (UEGF).
To initiate a case against the UEGF, an injured worker must notify the UEGF within 45 days of learning that his or her employer failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently had to address when compensation becomes payable, and whether “compensation” in this context, when notice is provided to the UEGF after the 45 days, includes payment of medical expenses.
In this matter, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Kendrick and Timberline Tree & Landscaping LLC), the employee suffered an orbital fracture, traumatic brain injury and postconcussion syndrome on November 7, 2011. A Claim Petition was filed against the employer. In that litigation, at a hearing on December 21, 2011, the injured worker was advised that the employer had no workers’ compensation insurance in PA. A Notice of Claim was not filed against the UEGF until February 8, 2012 (more than 45 days after the injured worker knew there was no insurance). All of these facts were stipulated between the parties. A Claim Petition against the UEGF was filed; the only issue for the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) to decide was when the compensation was to start (the date of the injury, or the date the UEGF was notified).