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Showing Pennsylvania is the Right Forum for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

In a recent workers’ compensation case, a claimant asked for a review of a dismissal of his claim. The case was dismissed because he didn’t meet his burden of showing Pennsylvania was the right forum for his workers’ compensation claim. The claimant asserted that the judge and the appeals board had misapplied Section 305.2 of the Workers’ Compensation Act, having to do with extraterritorial injuries.

The worker worked as a union laborer out of Local 1451. His agent had located jobs for union laborers. The worker worked for the employer several times for limited durations. After each project, he would be laid off.

In 2009, the employer hired the worker to work on a mall project. The worker stayed at a hotel. Later the employer got the worker and two coworkers housing. The worker and his coworkers worked through the week in New York and came back to Pennsylvania.

After spending a weekend in Pennsylvania, the worker came back to the New York apartment complex. The following morning, while getting the car ready to go to work, the worker slipped on ice and fell. His coworkers helped him to his feet, and when he got to the job site, he told the foreman. He tried to work that morning but found it difficult because of his pain.

The worker testified he tried to do his job that morning but had difficulty because of intense pain. The worker’s supervisor gave him light duty work. He continued to perform light duty until he was laid off.

The worker filed a workers’ compensation petition in Pennsylvania, claiming a work-related back injury of a bulging disc. His employer denied the allegations in the petition, claiming that the injuries happened in New York outside the course and scope of employment.

The judge dismissed the worker’s claims on the grounds that he didn’t prove Pennsylvania jurisdiction was proper. The judge found that the worker worked under a contract for hire made in Pennsylvania but localized in New York. The judge also found the worker didn’t have a continuous employment relationship with the employer. Therefore, previous jobs could not count as a single sustained employment for purposes of determining where the job was. The claim was dismissed.

The worker appealed to the Board of Appeals. The Board affirmed. The worker argued his employment was principally localized in Pennsylvania because he was hired in Pennsylvania, his contract for hire was in Pennsylvania, and he previously completed more than 30 jobs for the company in Pennsylvania. He also argued that jurisdiction in Pennsylvania should be found because the New York job was only supposed to last a year, and it lasted only three months.

He argued that if his work was not localized in Pennsylvania, the judge should have found his employment was not localized in any state, again making the jurisdiction proper. He finally argued the judge didn’t make a finding that New York workers’ compensation law would apply to the claim.

The court found that the worker’s employment was principally localized in New York at the time of the injury. It explained that Section 305.2 of the Act allowed jurisdiction for out-of-state injuries only in certain situations.

It would be appropriate if an employee while working outside Pennsylvania was hurt where (1) his work was localized in Pennsylvania, (2) he was working under a contract for hire made in Pennsylvania in employment not principally localized in any state, or (3) he was working under a contract for hire made in Pennsylvania in employment principally localized in another state whose workers’ compensation law did not apply to his employer.

The court found that the judge’s supported findings showed the worker’s employment was principally localized in New York, not Pennsylvania. The court affirmed.

An experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can evaluate the facts of your particular case and file a claim if appropriate. Contact the attorneys at Needle Law Firm at 570-344-1266 or via our online form for a free consultation.

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