Employers are not always cooperative when it comes to compensating injured employees. This is evident from a recent case in Pennsylvania. The case involved a former employee who apparently injured his eye during a fall which occurred as he was in the process of removing personal belongings from a company vehicle after having quit. The fall occurred on company premises and was witnessed by a manager who later refused to approve a physician referral request because the injury allegedly occurred when the man was no longer an active employee.
When the injured employee subsequently filed a civil lawsuit seeking damages, his former employer argued that workers’ comp was his only means of compensation since he was injured on the job. At that, the former employee withdrew his lawsuit and filed for workers’ compensation. Ironically, when the man was awarded worker’s compensation for the injuries, the employer then appealed, arguing that the injuries weren’t covered since they occurred after the man had quit his job.
The question in the case was ultimately whether the man was injured while working. After multiple appeals, it was determined that the injuries are covered under workers’ compensation since the man was still acting within the scope of employment at the employer’s direction and in furtherance of the company’s interests.
One thing that this case makes clear is that some employers will do anything to shirk responsibility for an injured employee, even if it means making contradictory legal arguments. In this case, the employer first argued that the injured worker’s only remedy was workers’ compensation, but then when he was awarded workers’ comp, the employer argued that the injuries weren’t covered under workers’ comp. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court saw through that one, though, and fortunately held the employer accountable.
Injured workers should always work with an experienced attorney when they run into problems with an employer over workers’ compensation. Doing so ensures their rights and interests will receive the advocacy they deserve.
Business Insurance, “Injured worker who had just quit wins appeal for workers comp,” Sheena Harrison, August 12, 2014.