If you live and work in another state, travel to a conference in Pennsylvania and injure yourself while you’re working here, do you have a workers’ compensation claim in Pennsylvania or in your home state? And what if your job is based in Pennsylvania, and you fly out of state for business and get hurt while you’re there? In which state would you have a viable workers’ comp. claim? Let’s tackle these questions by looking at some hypotheticals and the law in this area.
Picture this: You’re a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, have a job in Pennsylvania, and travel to Detroit, Michigan for a series of meetings. While you’re in Michigan, you have a freak accident on the last day of meetings – when you’re at the building where your meetings are held, you slip on water in the bathroom and twist your knee. You go to the local emergency room in Detroit, undergo tests, and are diagnosed with a torn meniscus. You are given crutches and pain medication. You fly back to Pennsylvania and because your job requires you to drive to businesses in the area and you’re temporarily unable to drive due to your injury, you go out of work. You put in a workers’ comp. claim, and you begin to receive benefits for your lost wages – but they are Michigan workers’ comp. benefits. You would prefer to have your claim transferred to Pennsylvania because if your case goes before a Workers’ Compensation Judge, it would be more convenient for you if it’s a Judge close to home. Furthermore, you hear from one of your co-workers that workers’ comp. laws are more favorable for injured workers in Pennsylvania than Michigan. Can your claim be transferred from Michigan to Pennsylvania?
Even though your injury occurred in Michigan, it is possible that Pennsylvania could also have jurisdiction over your claim – in other words, you could bring a valid claim in Pennsylvania. Several factors determine whether jurisdiction is proper in Pennsylvania: 1) Were you hired in Pennsylvania? 2) Does your employer have offices in Pennsylvania? 3) What percentage of your time is spent working in Pennsylvania? The more substantial the ties that you and your employer have to Pennsylvania, the more likely Pennsylvania will have jurisdiction. For example, if you were hired by your employer in Pennsylvania, most of their offices are in Pennsylvania and you only work out of their Philadelphia office, and you spend 90% of your work time in Pennsylvania, then you have a very strong argument that jurisdiction is proper in Pennsylvania, and the insurance company will likely agree to transfer your claim to Pennsylvania.
The lines are blurrier in our second hypothetical. Suppose you interviewed for a sales position in your employer’s main office in Michigan, and after you were hired, you completed training in that office. During the year you have been employed by the company, you have spent about 40% of your time going on sales calls in Michigan, 40% in Pennsylvania, and 20% in Ohio. It’s a close call on whether your claim could be transferred to Pennsylvania – on the one hand, you live in Pennsylvania, and spend as much time working in Pennsylvania as in any other state; on the other hand , you were not hired in Pennsylvania, your company’s main office is not in Pennsylvania, and you spend less than half of your time working in Pennsylvania. In this scenario, you would probably need to hire an experienced PA workers’ compensation lawyer – we recommend Pearson Koutcher law – to get your claim transferred to Pennsylvania.
Let’s say that your claim is transferred from another state to Pennsylvania. You are not allowed to receive workers’ comp. benefits in two states simultaneously, so going forward, you would receive Pennsylvania benefits. If your weekly workers’ comp. rate is $100 higher under Pennsylvania law than Michigan law, then you would be entitled to an additional $100 for each week that you were paid Michigan workers’ comp. benefits.
Now let’s flip the script. You live in another state, say Virginia, and you attend a week-long conference in downtown Philadelphia. On the second day, you make the short drive from your hotel to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and an impatient driver rear-ends you while you’re at a stop sign. You feel neck and back pain, take some Tylenol each day, but you’re able to attend the rest of the conference. When you return home, however, your pain has worsened, and you start to treat with a doctor, who takes you out of work. Do you have a workers’ comp. claim in Pennsylvania or in Virginia?
Because your injury occurred in Pennsylvania, you definitely have a valid workers’ comp. claim in Pennsylvania. It doesn’t matter if this is the first time that you travelled to Pennsylvania for work and that you may never go back there – if you injured yourself in Pennsylvania in the course of your employment, Pennsylvania automatically has jurisdiction over your claim. That being said, it’s possible that Virginia has jurisdiction too because, as the above example illustrates, more than one state can have jurisdiction over a workers’ comp. claim. You may want to consult with a PA workers’ compensation lawyer and a Virginia workers’ comp. lawyer to learn what your rights are in both states.
If ultimately your claim ends up as a Pennsylvania workers’ comp. claim, you are entitled to weekly wage loss benefits as long as you remain disabled from your job, and the workers’ comp. insurance company for your employer is required to pay your medical bills that are reasonable, necessary, and related to your work injury.
No workers’ comp. case is simple, but if you work in Pennsylvania and get injured in another state, or the other way around, things can really get complicated. It is important that you have an experienced PA workers’ compensation lawyer by your side to ensure that your rights are protected. At Pearson Koutcher Law, workers’ comp. is all we do. Each of our lawyers has more than 25 years of experience handling workers’ comp. claims on behalf of injured workers and knows all the ins and outs of workers’ comp. law. Please call Pearson Koutcher Law for a free comprehensive consultation today.
Now let’s flip the script