In our previous blog we discussed what defines a work injury. We discussed the importance of the “course and scope” requirement and how activities like using the bathroom at work do not take an employee outside the course and scope of their employment. In this blog, we will explore the circumstances that exist where an injury may appear to be work-related but is in fact unrelated.The first of these situations is one where the employee is at work on the employer’s premises but is injured while attending to a personal activity or an activity in no way related to their employment. For example, if you work at a t-shirt printing company as a receptionist and are severely burned while printing birthday t-shirts for yourself, during business hours, and without your employer’s permission, you are likely outside the course and scope of your employment. But why is this unrelated? You are at work after all. The Court would likely focus on the fact that you are a receptionist, not a t-shirt printer; your activities were for your personal benefit, not employer’s; and you did not have employer’s permission to use the printer in the first place.
The second situation is a situation where you are not on your employer’s premises but your activities are related to your employment on some level. The largest category of this kind of case is injuries sustained while commuting. Commuting to and from work is generally not considered an activity in the course of employment. Even if you commute to work in a company vehicle there are situations where your commute is not considered to be in the course and scope of your employment. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Examples are if you are a traveling employee such as a consultant with no fixed place of work; if your contract with your employer considers transportation to and from work part of your employment; or if you are on a special assignment for your employer when you are injured.
While commuting is generally not considered to be a work injury, injuries occurring in your employer’s parking lot or on their premises while an employee is entering or leaving work is usually a work injury. The bottom line is that there are gray areas within the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act that require a thorough evaluation by a competent attorney. If you believe you have suffered a work injury and have questions about whether you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, please call Pearson Koutcher Law right away. One of our Workers’ Compensation attorneys would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Let us put our decades of experience to work for you, helping you navigate the complexities of the Workers’ Compensation laws.