If I live in Pennsylvania, can I bring a workers compensation claim in Pennsylvania?

Jurisdiction-101There are several different ways that a work injury can fall under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Many people falsely believe that if one lives in Pennsylvania, then one can bring a workers compensation claim, regardless of where one was injured, within Pennsylvania’s workers compensation system.  That is not always true.

First rule is the easy one.  If the injury occurred in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania will always have jurisdiction over that claim.  For example, if a worker from Illinois was traveling to New Jersey, but was injured in an accident in Pennsylvania, the injured worker can bring a workers compensation claim in Pennsylvania.  Simple rule.  If it happens here, it can be brought here.  One note here is that injured workers are sometimes are misled to believe that if he/she was injured in Pennsylvania, but their employment contract confers jurisdiction to another state, such as Delaware, then you must bring the claim in the other state.  That is simply not true.  Pennsylvania will ALWAYS have jurisdiction on a workers compensation claim when the injury occurred in Pennsylvania.  A contract for hire can’t extinguish that jurisdiction.

So, can an injury that happened outside Pennsylvania be covered under Pennsylvania workers compensation?  Depends.  Injuries that occur outside Pennsylvania may be able to gain Pennsylvania jurisdiction.  It depends on a few factors.  Here is how an injury occurring outside Pennsylvania can be brought as a workers compensation claim in Pennsylvania:

1.  If the employment of the injured worker is principally localized in Pennsylvania; or

2.  The injured employee is working under a contract for hire made in Pennsylvania and the employment is not principally localized in any state; or

3.  The injured employee is working under a contract for hire made in Pennsylvania and the employment is principally localized in another state, but that state’s workers compensation laws are not applicable; or

4.  The injured workers is working under a contract for hire made in Pennsylvania for employment outside the United States or Canada.

5.  The injured worker is domiciled in Pennsylvania and and the injured worker spends a substantial part of his working time for the employer in Pennsylvania.

It is critical to note that it is unlawful for an injured employee to be receiving workers compensation in another state or from the federal workers compensation system and in Pennsylvania at the same time for the same specific injury.  In other words, if more than one state has jurisdiction over the work injury, then the injured employee must choose which jurisdiction to bring a claim.

Whether you fit into any of these exceptions will be fact specific.  It is best to hire a workers compensation Attorney to assist you in answering questions regarding jurisdiction.   These issues are important.  Different states have different workers compensation benefits.  One state may have more workers compensation benefits than another state.  Getting the proper jurisdiction can be very important to an injured worker.

In summary, just because a person lives in Pennsylvania does not mean they can bring a Pennsylvania workers compensation claim if the injury outside Pennsylvania.  Where you reside does not necessarily covey jurisdiction to your home state.

Mooney & Associates stands ready to assist you in obtaining the workers compensation benefits you deserve.   Simply give us a call at 1-877-632-4656 or email us at info@mooney4law.com.


Mark Buterbaugh

Attorney representing injured workers and Social Security Disability clients in Pennsylvania and Maryland.