The following crucial question arises when a work-related injury occurs: “Did the injury or illness arise within the course and scope of employment?” The key terms under consideration are “course and scope of employment.” In Pennsylvania, if a worker suffers an injury that does not arise in the course of employment, the harm suffered by a worker does not constitute a work-related injury and is not compensable under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.
Section 301(c)(1) of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides that an “injury…shall be construed to mean an injury to an employee, regardless of his previous physical condition, arising in the course of his employment and related thereto, and such disease or infection as naturally results from the injury or is aggravated, reactivated or accelerated by the injury; and wherever death is mentioned as a cause for compensation under this act, it shall mean only death resulting from such injury and its resultant effects, and occurring within three hundred weeks after the injury.”
Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law broadly defines an injury to include aggravation, reactivation, and acceleration of a pre-existing condition or disease.
Most work injuries indisputably arise in the course of employment, the following are some examples:
These are typical accidents that may occur over the course of a normal workday as workers perform their designated job duties. Any injuries that result would clearly “arise in the course of employment.”
A delivery driver working for Amazon Prime who slips on a wet floor while making a delivery would be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, in this case, the driver may also have an additional personal injury claim against a third party, whether it is the building owner, landlord, or maintenance company, for negligence – failure to meet the standard of care for maintaining the floor of the premises.
Unfortunately, not all injuries suffered by workers while theoretically on the job are clearly compensable under Pennsylvania law. A worker on his lunch break who decided to jump down a flight of stairs on a whim was held to not have suffered an injury compensable under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Yet, a worker who jumped twenty feet off the top of a building after his co-workers removed a ladder forgetting his presence, was held to have a compensable injury.
Pennsylvania law allows compensation for injuries, conditions, and diseases that occur over time that are not caused by a specific accident. There is no requirement that a compensable injury must be the product of a specific event that triggered the harm. Thus, the cumulative effects of trauma that result from work-related duties (“arise in the course of employment”) are compensable work injuries under Commonwealth law.
Also, jobs that involve repetitive motion may cause compensable injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. In these cases, it is necessary to establish the repetitive nature of the work, such as certain hand movements used repeatedly over the course of a workday.
There is no perfect, infallible test for what falls within the definition of “arising in the course of employment.” Regardless of the archive of examples that have been accumulated since the inception of the Workers’ Compensation Act, the inherent uniqueness of a workers’ compensation case, however limited it may be, requires a learned analysis of the circumstances to determine if the injury is arguably compensable under the law.
The process for filing and receiving approval of workers’ compensation claims in Pennsylvania is complicated. Claimants are required to provide a long list of information in the form of medical records and other necessary documentation. This information must be collected, organized, and presented within certain procedures and deadlines. Powell Law has represented injured workers for 115 years and has a distinguished reputation throughout northeastern Pennsylvania for adhering to the highest standards in serving those injured on the job. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE, and you don’t pay unless we win!