What Happens When Your Employer’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance Has Lapsed and You are Injured on the Job?

November 30, 2017

Imagine that you are an average Philadelphia worker who puts in a hard day at work, but one day you suffer a serious workplace injury. You seek emergency medical attention and then you notify your employer of your injury so that you can apply for workers’ compensation because it is a serious injury that will require surgery and time to recuperate at home. However, you are shocked when you find out that your employer has somehow allowed their workers’ compensation policy to lapse. What can you do?

Most Pennsylvania employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance as soon as they hire their first employee. Workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory for employers as it provides temporary disability, partial wage replacement benefits, medical expenses and other important benefits for injured workers. It also protects employers from negligence lawsuits from employees who get injured at work. Filing for workers’ compensation does not require a worker to prove that their employer’s negligence was the cause of their injury to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Employers who fail to maintain their workers’ compensation insurance policies face serious penalties in Pennsylvania.

What are the consequences for an employer who fails to carry workers’ compensation insurance?

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry has oversight for the state workers’ compensation program. If an employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance when an employee has a work-related injury, there is an Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund that will cover the costs of the claim. The department will pursue the employer for reimbursement of the costs of the claim plus interest and penalties. The employer can also face criminal charges for each day that they do not having workers’ compensation insurance. The employee can sue the employer for their workplace injury and if they prevail, they may recover amounts that would exceed what they might receive in workers compensation benefits.

Penalties fines of $2,500 for misdemeanors and up to one year in prison for each day the employer is in violation of the requirement to maintain workers’ compensation insurance. Penalties for felony convictions can carry fines of $15,000 and up to seven years in prison for each day the employer intentionally violated this requirement. Finally, the employer may be required to pay for the injured workers’ benefits awarded by a workers’ compensation judge.

Pennsylvania workers’ compensation program provides wage loss benefits and medical expenses for workers who are injured in the job or who have an occupational illness. The family members of workers who die in workplace accidents may recover death benefits from workers compensation and there are lump sum payments for scheduled loss of use injuries, permanent disabilities and disfigurement from an injury on the job.

If you have suffered a workplace injury and employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance at the time of your injury, you are welcome to complete our contact form or call 888.PITT.LAW to schedule a consultation with a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates. Our Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys have experience helping injured workers obtain the benefits they deserve. We are proud to serve clients throughout Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.