January 11, 2007
Pennsylvania attorneys face new obligations in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases when receiving a settlement, verdict or award. On July 7, 2006, Governor Rendell signed Act 109 (effective September 5, 2006), which amends Title 23 of the Domestic Relations Code and allows the Department of Public Welfare to intercept child support payments that are past due from lump sum monetary verdicts, awards or settlements paid by defendants, insurance companies and workers’ compensation sources. The law states that no payment can be made until an outstanding child support obligation is satisfied.
For example, if a plaintiff in a personal injury case in Philadelphia settles the case, the plaintiff must provide her attorney with a statement containing his name, address, date of birth, social security number and written documentation as to whether back due payments exist from the Pennsylvania child support enforcement system website. The attorney must then obtain a report from the website and check to see if there is any outstanding arrears or lien.
In Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases, the workers’ compensation judges are requesting this information be presented to them before a settlement is approved. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, no order providing for a payment shall be entered by the workers’ compensation judge unless the prevailing claimant provides the judge with written documentation of arrears from the Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement System Web site, or, if no arrears exist, written documentation from the Web site indicating no arrears. The judge shall order payment of the lien for overdue support to the department’s state disbursement unit from the net proceeds due the claimant. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has the forms listed on their website to comply with Act 109.
Posted in: Workers Compensation
December 14, 2006
A few years ago I received a call from an employee who while working in Philadelphia was injured severely at work, but the employer did not carry workers’ compensation insurance. Because the employer had no assets, I unfortunately had to inform this injured employee that he may never recover. There may now be help for those injured in Philadelphia or anywhere in Pennsylvania while at work even if their employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance because of a recent change in the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.
On November 9, 2006, Governor Rendell signed into law Act 147, formerly House Bill 2738. The amendments to the workers’ compensation Act include:
1) A “resolution hearing” procedure to speed up processing of compromise and release agreements;
2) A “mandatory trial schedule” to be established at the first hearing by a workers’ compensation judge, including mandatory mediation unless that would be “futile”;
3) Added to Section 414 of the Act a provision stating: “when assigning petitions…, the department shall not assign to a particular workers’ compensation judge more than seventy-five per centum of the petitions from a particular county”;
4) An Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund.
From this writer’s perspective, the largest impact of the law will be the addition of the Uninsured Guaranty Fund. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act covers all injuries to employees at work. It is a no-fault system, with the injured employee only having to prove that he was injured while working (in the course of employment) and is disabled (cannot work). In Pennsylvania, all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, some do not in violation of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Many employees who worked for small businesses could never collect if the employer did not carry workers’ compensation insurance. Under the new law, a fund is created for an injured worker to collect even if the employer has no insurance. This fund is called the “Guaranty Fund” which was created under Act 147 of 2006. Finally, employees who have worked for irresponsible employers that never carried insurance have a remedy!
Posted in: Workers Compensation