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Hurt at Home—Is an Employee Eligible for PA Worker Comp

A common question asked by injured workers is am I eligible for PA workers comp if I was hurt at home?   A relatively recent case has shed additional light an employee’s eligibility for PA Workers Compensation when the employee was hurt at home.  In Verizon Pa. v. WCAB (Alston), 900 A.2d 440 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006), an employee was working from home when she fell down the stairs to her home office and injured her neck. She was working from home that day and left her home office to go to the kitchen to get a drink; she fell while returning to her home office. She filed a Claim Petition seeking benefits under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act stating that she was injured while furthering her employer’s interests, despite the fact that she had briefly departed from her work duties to attend to her own personal comfort. Importantly, Pennsylvania Courts have routinely held that minor deviations from work activities which result in an injury may still qualify for benefits under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, as such diversions (such as going to the bathroom or getting a quick lunch) are designed to administer to an employee’s personal comfort enabling him or her to perform the job more effectively—thus, furthering the employer’s business. This is referred to as the “personal comfort doctrine”.  US Airways v. WCAB (Dixon), 764 A.2d 635 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2000).

The employer in Verizon argued that the claimant was clearly was not furthering their interest by getting a drink and falling down her own stairs at home. The Workers’ Compensation Judge, the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, and the Commonwealth Court disagreed and all found for the injured worker. The Courts reasoned that the employee was authorized by her employer to work from home, she was actually working prior to leaving her home office to get a glass of juice (personal comfort doctrine), and that she only deviated briefly from her work activities at the time of her injury. Therefore, employees hurt at home while working for their employers may be eligible for PA Workers Compensation benefits.

If you are hurt at home and think you may be eligible for PA Workers Compensation you should discuss it with an experienced PA Workers Compensation lawyer.

Ira H. Weinstock, P.C. is located in Harrisburg, PA and serves clients in and around Southeast Pennsylvania. Contact our experienced Harrisburg attorneys today, we can travel if necessary.

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