On November 9, 2006, Governor Ed Rendell signed into law a new piece of workers’ compensation legislation. The new law makes several changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act:
- Individuals injured prior to August 31, 1993 will receive a minimum of $100 per week beginning January 1, 2007.
- A fund has been established to pay workers’ compensation benefits to an injured worker even if the employer fails to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Insurance carriers and self-insured employers will be assessed an annual fee to cover the cost of the fund. This is the first time in Pennsylvania history that injured workers will have protection against uninsured employers.
- Workers’ compensation judges must enforce specific deadlines so that cases will move along faster.
- Every injured worker will be entitled to a mediation conference once the case has been assigned to a workers’ compensation judge. The mediation conference is designed to bring all the parties together to see if the case can be settled instead of continuing the litigation. All parties – the insurance company, the employer and the injured worker – are required to participate unless the judge feels that a mediation would be futile.
- No individual workers’ compensation judge will be permitted to hear more than 75 percent of the cases from a particular county.