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Police Officers and Off the Job Injuries

Police Officers Are Entitled To Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits When Injured From Exercising or Working Out Off the Job

Posted by Ira H. Weinstock, P.C. in Workers Compensation, Helpful Information, and Heart and Lung Blog on November 5, 2014

Police officers often are required to meet certain physical requirements as part of their job requirements – whether it is the ability to do a certain number of sit-ups and pushups in an allotted time or meeting time requirements for running a mile. The courts have recognized the special responsibility of police officers and have held that police officers who are injured while exercising to meet physical fitness standards are entitled to Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Benefits.

In SEPTA v. WCAB (McDowell), the police officer injured himself while running off duty in a park. He testified that he was running and exercising in an effort to meet his Employer’s physical fitness standards. The police officer testified about the Employer’s physical fitness standards, including requirements for trunk flexion, bench press, sit-ups, and a 1.5-mile run. The Claimant testified that he regularly ran. Unfortunately, while running in the park, the police officer hit a depression in the ground and twisted his knee. The police officer underwent surgery to his knee and received physical therapy thereafter. SEPTA denied the Claim forcing the ensuing litigation.

The issue in the case was whether the police officer was in the course and scope of his employment when he was running in his off-time and twisted his right knee. The workers compensation judge found that he was in the course and scope of his employment and therefore awarded benefits.

The Judge considered different factors including the Employer’s physical fitness standards, the amount of testing by the Employer, and the Employer’s encouragement of its officers to maintain their physical fitness level. The Appeal Board affirmed this Decision, and the Commonwealth Court affirmed.

The Commonwealth Court found that the injuries that Mr. McDowell suffered were “in the actual furtherance of the Employer’s affairs.” The Court specifically found that it did not matter that the officer’s injuries occurred off the Employer’s premises as well as off the clock.

If you need assistance or guidance with regard to a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claim, feel free to call our office to speak to an Experienced Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Lawyer at 717-238-1657 for a free consultation.

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