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Archive for September, 2020

What Is (and Is Not) a Workers’ Comp Injury? Our Lancaster Work Injury Lawyer Explains

Workers’ compensation, also known as workers’ comp, helps cover medical, disability, and rehabilitation expenses for workers who are injured on the job. Workers’ comp may also provide death benefits to an employee’s dependents if the worker is killed in a work-related incident. 

However, workers’ comp helps protect employers as well. As an injured employee’s exclusive remedy, workers’ comp helps protect businesses from liability for employees’ workplace injuries, allowing them to avoid paying directly for those injuries. This is why workers’ comp is often referred to as “workers’ compensation insurance.”

If you or a loved one have suffered a work-related injury, let our Lancaster work injury lawyer help you explore your possible options, including workers’ comp claims. 

What Are Compensable Injuries in Pennsylvania?

A “compensable injury” is an injury that qualifies for workers’ comp benefits; in other words, a “work-related” injury. Although the rules vary slightly from state to state, generally, to be a compensable injury:

  1. The injury must have happened to an employee, as opposed to, for example, a supplier, buyer, or independent contract employee,
  2. The injury must be the result of a workplace injury or illness that occurred during employment, and 
  3. The injury must result in some form of harm to the employee, such as medical bills or lost wages.

What Qualifies as a Work-Related Injury?

At first glance, assessing whether an injury is a work-related injury seems relatively straightforward. If, for example, you are mowing your lawn and accidentally cut your foot, this clearly is not work-related. On the other hand, if you trip and fall while moving your desk to a newly-assigned area of the office, this is likely to be a work-related injury, unless, of course, your boss clearly told you not to move your desk, and you did so anyway. These examples emphasize the gray areas that exist when it comes to determining whether your injury is legally “work-related.”

To qualify as a work-related injury, it must generally occur in the course and scope of your employment. In other words, your injury must happen in a situation where you are acting in furtherance of your employer’s business. 

If you are indeed acting in furtherance of your employer’s business, your injury can occur on or off the work premises. For example, if you are out making a delivery to a customer and you are injured in a car accident, those injuries are within the course and scope of your employment.

Furthermore, suppose you are not working within the course and scope of your employment but can show that you were injured while on your company’s premises, and you were required by the nature of your job to be present on your company’s premises. In that case, your injuries may be considered work-related. Speak to our Lancaster work injury lawyer to discuss the specifics of your situation.

For example, if you slipped and fell in the lunchroom during your lunch break because somebody spilled coffee, you probably are not eating lunch to further your employer’s business. Still, you are required to work at the office each day and were injured by that office’s condition. Therefore, this injury would most likely be considered work-related.

Some less obvious work-related injuries may include:

  • Mental stress injuries, such as anxiety and emotional distress
  • Repetitive stress injuries, such as tendonitis, bursitis, or carpal tunnel
  • Fatalities, from such things as chemical exposure, falls down steps or falls from scaffolding 
  • Occupational illnesses, such as exposure to asbestosis, silicosis, sunstroke, loss of hearing, or loss of sight

What Does Not Qualify as a Work-Related Injury in Pennsylvania?

There are occasions where an injury may seem to be work-related but legally is not. These occasions include employees who are at work on the company’s premises but are injured while attending a personal activity. For example, suppose an employee is injured by a paper-cutter while preparing invitations for her daughter’s birthday party during business hours and without the employer’s permission. In that case, this does not likely qualify as a work-related injury.

A second occasion may be where an employee is not on the employer’s premises, but the activities are related to your employment on some basic level, such as injuries suffered while commuting. Commuting to and from work is generally not considered an activity within the course of employment, even if you commute in a company vehicle. 

Nonetheless, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are a traveling employee, such as a sales rep with no fixed place of work, and the contract with your employer considers transportation to and from your work to be part of your employment, such “commuting” injuries may be considered work-related. 

Another exception may involve a special assignment for your employer, such as delivering a work product to a customer when you are injured. Or another exception to the commuting rule may be related to injuries occurring in your employer’s parking lot or on the company’s premises while an employee is entering or leaving work.

Additionally, injured employees will not be covered by workers’ comp if they:

  • Are engaged in fighting or horseplay,
  • Are under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
  • Are participating in an unsponsored and voluntary social gathering with coworkers, 
  • Are taking a work break off-site, or
  • Have suffered relatively minor injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, small wounds, or headaches.

Contact a Lancaster Work Injury Lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC for Same-Day Assistance

Determining whether an injury is work-related or not can be complicated and difficult. Additionally, even if your injuries do not qualify for workers’ compensation, you may have other legal options.

If you have suffered injuries that you even suspect may be work-related, a Lancaster work injury lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC will help you understand the current state of Pennsylvania law regarding workers’ comp, explore your options, protect your rights, and file any necessary claims on your behalf. If you need our help, please contact us online for a same-day response.