Truck driver from Pennsylvania suffers an injury in New Jersey while employed through Alabama. Can he qualify for workers’ comp in PA?
A Workers’ Compensation case out of Pennsylvania is bringing attention to the types of jurisdictional issues that can arise in Workers’ Comp disputes. The case questions whether a truck driver who lives in Pennsylvania but is injured in an accident in another state can qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits in Pennsylvania.
The case: William Watt v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Boyd Brothers Transportation)
The case, William Watt v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Boyd Brothers Transportation), involved a truck driver who was injured while untarping a cargo load in New Jersey. Due to the severity of his injuries, he was no longer able to work. He was granted workers’ compensation benefits, but out of Alabama. The driver is attempting to argue that he should qualify for Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits.
The driver applied for the position off his computer in Pennsylvania and attending a training session in Ohio. According to the driver’s daily logs, the majority of his miles were driven in Pennsylvania.
The employer counters that the driver signed a Workers’ Compensation Agreement stating that the worker is “subject to worker’s compensation laws of the State of Alabama.” The employer also stated that the mileage and states the driver operated in that were reported to the director of tax for operating tax systems for the employer did not match the mileage the employee presented to court. Instead, the employer’s data had the driver operating the majority of his miles in Virginia, followed by Ohio and then Pennsylvania.
The Workers’ Compensation Judge ultimately rejected the employer’s evidence and accepted the driver’s log, supporting that the driver spent the majority of his time driving in Pennsylvania. However, the court relied heavily upon the Workers’ Compensation Agreement, signed by the driver. In past cases, Pennsylvania courts have supported agreements that establish an employee’s employment in a specific state when the employee travels regularly in Pennsylvania and one or more other states. Furthermore, the employee in this case was not injured in Pennsylvania. As a result, the court ultimately held in favor of the employer.
Impact of the holding
Although the reason behind the worker’s attempt to qualify for benefits out of Pennsylvania instead of Alabama was not clearly listed, a worker could prefer to receive benefits in Pennsylvania for a number of reasons. As noted in a recent article in PennRecord, the Pennsylvania’s workers’ comp laws can be more generous than some other states. Also, it could be difficult for the worker to travel to Alabama for workers’ comp benefits.
This case provides an example of the need for legal counsel when navigating workers’ compensation claims. Various issues can arise, including jurisdictional issues. A Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer can help build a case in your favor, working to better ensure a more favorable outcome.