Four Common Questions About Workers Compensation

I recently wrote an article which described the basics of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. In summary, I pointed out that if a person is injured in the course of his employment in Pennsylvania, he could be entitled to wage loss replacement benefits and medical benefits. Also, if the accident involved a third party then an injured person may also have a cause of action against that third party. This article will focus on four specific questions that may be a concern to some readers.

First, what happens if an employer does not have workers compensation insurance? Before January 8,2007 an injured worker would often be out of luck if his employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance because it was frequently difficult to collect against a small employer that did not have workers’ compensation insurance. However, after January 8,2007 the Uninsured Employer Guaranty Fund was created. Now, if an injured worker learns that an employer does not have insurance, the injured worker can file a Claim Petition with the Uninsured Fund. If the Claim Petition is granted then the Uninsured Employer Guaranty Fund will pay the claim in full.

Second, what happens if a person does not have legal status? Before 2002 a person injured while working in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was entitled to the same compensation as any other person who was injured at work, regardless of their immigration status. Since then, the law has changed and an injured person without legals status is entitled to medical treatment and wage loss replacement benefits for total disability. The difference is that now once an injured worker without legal status recovers enough to do some work then that person is no longer entitled to wage loss replacement benefits. Whereas, a person with legal status is presumed to be entitled to ongoing wage loss benefits even if they recover enough to do alternative or modified work. In other words, it is more difficult for an insurance company or an employer to stop paying a person with legal status then somebody without status. Nevertheless, it is highly recommended that a person without status who suffers a serious injury contact an attorney as that person has rights and remedies under the law that must be considered.

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