In our last post, we spoke briefly about a recent court case which posed the question of when workplace injuries are compensable in Pennsylvania and when they are not. We’ve already noted that workers’ compensation is supposed to be available for all injuries and illnesses sustained in the course of employment, generally speaking.
There are some exceptions to that general rule, though, including cases where workplace injury or death is self-inflicted or caused by violation of law, such as the use of illegal drugs. If injury or death is due to intoxication, the worker or his or her survivors are not able to receive compensation if the incident would not have occurred if the employee was not intoxicated. Importantly, though, the burden of proof on that point lies on the employer.
Section 301 of Pennsylvania’s Worker’s Compensation Act clarifies various other points related to the compensability of workplace injuries:
- Injuries, diseases or infections naturally resulting from workplace injury or which are “aggravated, reactivated or accelerated” in the course of and related to a worker’s employment are all considered injuries for purposes of workers’ compensation;
- “In the course of employment” excludes injuries caused by third parties intending to harm the employee due to personal reasons rather than reasons related to the employment, as well as side trips in company vehicles;
- Most injuries an employee suffers while engaged in the furtherance of the business interests of the employer, whether on or off the employer’s property, are considered injuries for purposes of workers’ compensation.
We have not attempted at all to be exhaustive in this discussion of what is and is not compensable workplace injury under Pennsylvania law. Injured employees who have been refused workers’ compensation benefits and who have questions about the appropriateness of the refusal should work with an experienced attorney to make sure their rights are protected.