In Pennsylvania, For employers who don’t have workers compensation coverage, it can be quite costly

In Pennsylvania, employers who fail to carry workers compensation coverage are taking huge risks.  Those risks are not just limited to significant financial risk, but also to possible criminal prosecution.

Workers compensation insurance for employers

Workers Conpensation insurance coverage is critical for employers in Pennsylvania

These types of situations often occur where a business, usually a home repair contractor, general construction contractor, a dry wall contractor, a subcontractor working under a general contractor on a larger project, has individuals working with them, and they assume them to be a ‘subcontractor’.  That is a huge assumption to make, and often, an incorrect assumption.  Rarely do we come across these circumstances where an actual strong argument exists that the injured party may be a ‘subcontractor’.

Most of the time, I represent the unfortunate injured worker.  Those injuries can be financially, emotionally, and physically devastating.  The injured worker is out of work with no income, the ’employer’ refuses to pay any medical bills or treatment because they were not an ’employee’, and either treatment halts, or medical bills rack up.  It’s  a vicious cycle.   What then happens is the injured worker seeks out Counsel, in which we represent many of them, we seek insurance, find out there is no coverage, and then have file a claim with the PA Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund (UEGF).  The UEGF steps in and acts like the insurance carrier.  Problem is, the UEGF is well  underfunded.  However, once the UEGF is involved, the risks to the uninsured business rises dramatically.

From the other perspective, I also represent uninsured employers.  The risk is high.  Not only could the employer be responsible for lost wages and medical bills of the injured employee, which can be staggering, but also significant legal and deposition fees to defend the claim, the legal fees of the injured employee, and the legal fees of the UEGF.  After all that, the uninsured employer could then face criminal penalties for not carrying workers compensation coverage.   It just is not worth saving a few bucks a month in workers compensation premiums when compared to the tens of thousands of dollars, or more, of liability, that could lie ahead if a workers get injured while on a job for you.  You might think that it won’t happen in your situation, that won’t happen to me, or my subs are close friends, but injury and liability changes everything.   For home remodel contractors, construction contractors, dry wallers, and other construction related contractors, the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act, passed in 2012, is the governing act that holds liability, employment status, and criminal penalties.

Don’t interpret employment status on your own.  It is complex and not nearly as clear as you think.  He may be a friend of yours.  He may even be a relative of yours.  However, when injury occurs, things change rapidly.

Best ways for contractors to avoid this is to purchase workers compensation coverage.  The other ways it to establish your subs who work with you are true subcontractors, including a written subcontractor agreement.  Mooney & Associates can help protect you from these unfortunate situations.  We can help you avoid completely unnecessary risk.  For a consultation, simply call today at 717-200-HURT or 1-877-632-4656.

Happy Labor Day Pennsylvania!

One thing I have learned through my years of dedicating my practice to representing injured workers is the fact we have a strong labor work ethic in Pennsylvania.  I see it everyday.

Happy-Labor-Day-Greeting

The misnomer out there is that injured workers want to just sit on workers compensation benefits.  That is just not accurate.  Many injured workers that I represent want to get back to work quickly, even before they are healed.  Many are losing precious dollars each week, many are long time employees of companies they enjoy working for, and others feel worthless just sitting at home, while they heal from their work injuries.  These are not people trying to live off a benefit they deserve.  These folks do not go to work asking to be injured.

Robust Economy in Central Pennsylvania

In Central Pennsylvania, we have a robust economy.  Cumberland County is expected to become the fastest growing county in the Commonwealth.  From a strong housing market, to a positive tax environment, to a robust work ethic, the Carlisle, Mechanicsburg, Silver Spring Township, Hampden Township areas, and even south to Shippensburg, are bustling with economic development.  Even across the county border to Franklin County, just look at the growth in Chambersburg.  Distribution Centers and manufacturing are popping up all along Interstate 81 corridor.  Shippensburg is set to see more growth off Interstate 81, Exit 24.  One thing these companies have cited is a strong work ethic.  That is something to be proud of.  Companies do not locate to areas where they do not believe they can gain a strong work force.

So on this Labor Day, we should take pride in our communities that we live in and be thankful we are seeing growth and advancement, not decay and depreciation.  Pennsylvania is not a growing state, population wise, but the area we live in, well, the story is quite different.  Take pride in our communities and who we are as Central Pennsylvanians.  We work well, we work hard, and we produce.

Treating injured employees with respect

Hopefully, as we continue to see companies locate into Cumberland, Franklin, and Adams counties, we will see companies become good stewards.  Part of that is treating employees with respect and taking care of them when they are hurt.  Work injuries happen.  It is a fact.  Many people get hurt working around the home.  But, at work, there is heavy lifting, there are fork lift accidents, there is such a thing as repetitive stress and trauma, there are slip and falls, there are certified nursing assistant who get injured helping patients, and there are auto accidents.  The key is how we respond to such injuries.  Companies need to do a better job at restructuring or revising processes to avoid work injuries.  They need to constantly evaluate work injuries and make changes to head off injuries before they occur.  They need to put employee safety as a core company value.  Without employees, companies do not exist.  Without a healthy work force, profits dwindle.  It’s called good stewardship and it needs to become a core principle.  Companies need to stop with the suspicions, stop the blaming, and stop putting up impediments to treatment for injuries, and instead, focus on getting injured workers well and compensating them fairly for life altering injuries.  Continue reading

Harrisburg Social Security Disability Office has long hearing wait, adds new Judges

I hear from every client their disbelief of the wait time to receive a hearing on their Social Security Disability appeal.  It is frightening for folks who have no income or limited income and can’t function normally or work. However, it is also a reality.  And, it is not just the Harrisburg Office of Adjudication and Review, which handles Social Security Disability appeals, that has the backlog wait time.  It is a national problem.

Mooney & Associates representing social security clients

Mooney & Associates representing social security clients

Here are the current numbers. (As of July 2016)

HEARING LOCATION HEARING WAIT TIME
Elkins Park, PA 20.0 Months
Harrisburg 19.3 Months
Johnstown 19 Months
Philadelphia 20.5 Months
Philadelphia East 20 Months
Pittsburgh 21 Months
Seven Field, PA 18 Months
Wilkes Barre 16.5 Months
Pennsylvania State Average 19.3 Months
Baltimore, MD 21 Months
NHC Baltimore 19 Months
Maryland State Average 20 Months

As you can see, the Harrisburg ODAR office is trending right near the Pennsylvania state average, but above the National average.  There may be some relief in sight though.  Harrisburg has recently added three new Administrative Law Judges, which should help reduce the wait time to around the National average.  Bottom line is, even with new ALJ’s on the way, if you have been denied Social Security Disability and you appeal, you SHOULD NOT expect to have a hearing for at least 16 months. Continue reading