Workers’ Compensation: A Fine Line Between Business and Pleasure

woman hand signing contract paperThe Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court recently addressed yet another controversial issue regarding a former employee’s workers’ compensation rights. Blurring the lines between work and pleasure is a constant struggle in determining the validity and soundness of workers’ compensation claims. The standard is that the circumstances surrounding the incident leading to the accident or injury must be within the workers’ scope of employment to be considered valid. Scope of employment involves doing something within the purview or direction of a superior, or carrying out duties typical to your daily responsibilities.

The recent ruling came from a December 2010 incident in which a senate aide was injured while leaving a holiday party. The senate aide suffered “fractures, cuts and other harm” when she fell. The Commonwealth denied her workers’ compensation claim, dismissing the aide’s argument that she was “furthering her employer’s interests by attending” the party, though it was optional. The latter fact led to the denial of her claim, stating she was not required to go, and thus it was not one of her duties that would place the party under her scope of employment.

Scope of Employment

Workers’ compensation cases are very fact-based and it can be very difficult to ascertain at what point someone does something that may be considered deviating from their scope of employment. This is particularly true in situations where an employer’s workers travel frequently, work irregular schedules, or are on call. When traveling, it can be difficult to determine when workers are “on the clock” so-to-speak. This has also become a growing concern with more and more people taking advantage of working remotely from home instead of going into the office.

Think of traveling for work. There is transportation to and from the airport on the home front and at your destination, hotel stays, car travel to meetings, business lunches . . . any number of things can go wrong at any of these events. But when are you really “working?” If you go out to dinner with your colleagues after a long day, but you discuss your ongoing business deal the whole time, are you on the clock? What about when you are at the coffee shop down the road working on your work’s accounting project and you are injured on the way from the office? Of course there are other players here (if you were injured at the hotel your business put you up in, the hotel may face premises liability legal action, but those issues aside . . . ), but your employer can still be held responsible for you even when you are not in the office.

Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Philadelphia

Workers’ compensation is your right. However, it is not automatic. There are many steps you must go through to claim workers’ compensation benefits from your employer and any misstep in the process may lead to delays in receiving compensation. Though appeals are possible, it is critical to get your paperwork done the right way the first time to be in compliance. If you or anyone you know has suffered a work-related accident or injury, you may be entitled to compensation. You can receive up to two-thirds of your income while you are on leave, which may be necessary to support your family. Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Solnick & Associates LLC understand how difficult and emotional it can be to deal with the workers’ compensation process; contact our Jenkintown today and let us help you make navigating the process much easier.