What constitutes “on the job” is an issue that must be addressed in a Workers’ Compensation claim. In most cases, it is a minor issue because the workplace can be easily defined by the walls of a building or the punching of a time clock. In a recent North Carolina case, it was not so simple. Workers Comp Definition of Workplace is an important part of all Work Comp Claims.
James Hunt, a North Carolina public school principal who was shot in his car while traveling to work and simultaneously conducting school business by phone was awarded Workers’ Compensation benefits in a decision by the state’s Workers’ Compensation board that is now being appealed for the second time. In most states, an accident resulting in injury to an employee who is going “to and from” work is not considered compensable. However, more Workers’ Compensation claims such as this are showing up in the courts as employees are increasingly working via mobile communications, which can blur the line between the status of “working” and “commuting.”
At the time of the incident, Hunt was, in fact, conducting school business on a school-issued cell phone. As an employee of the school system, he is also reimbursed for travel expenses. These facts fortify Hunt’s argument that his commute is a valid part of his workday, and compensation for treatment and lost wages due to the serious gunshot injuries to his face entitle Hunt to Workers’ Compensation benefits. Most states, including North Carolina, do not have precedential case law yet on the subject of whether mobile communications that occur away from the traditional workplace actually qualify employees for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Nonetheless, Hunt was initially awarded benefits for his claim, and the defendant’s appeal to the full Workers’ Compensation Commission was also successful. The school district is now appealing the decision in state court.
With technology advancements and the evolving definition of “the workplace” as it pertains to workplace injuries that are compensable through Workers’ Compensation insurance, a competent Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation attorney is key to a successful claim. Workers’ Compensation law is complex, frequently changes, and is governed by state law. While the outcome of the Hunt case in North Carolina does not directly affect Pennsylvania or Delaware workers, an injured worker in the Philadelphia and neighboring areas will need the advice of a competent Workers’ Compensation lawyer who tracks changes in state law and modifies claim strategy accordingly. The Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Pearson Koutcher Law closely monitor the trends and changes in Workers’ Compensation laws and can help you maximize the benefits to which you are entitled. Contact us today to discuss the particular facts of your Workers’ Compensation claim and how the definition of “workplace” will affect your claim.
If you were injured in an accident that occurred during work, but away from your traditional workplace, you may have a compensable workers’ compensation claim. Call Pearson Koutcher Law today for a free consultation, and let one of our experienced workers’ comp lawyers evaluate your claim. Time is of the essence with workers’ compensation claims, so call today.