Pennsylvania Employee injured while running in parking lot not granted workers’ compensation

There are cases now and then that involve the argument of ‘course and scope’, meaning, did the injury occur in the course and scope of employment.  Over the years, Pennsylvania Courts have reduced gray areas of the law involving course and scope arguments.  Recently, the Commonwealth Court issued an opinion, in Quality Bicycle Products v. WCAB (Shaw), No. 1570 C.D. 2015 (Cmwlth Ct., 2016), further defining the elements of the course and scope test.

CommCtIn Quality Bicycle Products, a Claimant was working at his Employer when he received a family emergency call from his wife.  After seeking permission to leave, he hurried out of the building and as he was running to his automobile to leave, he felt a pop in his knee and was in excruciating pain, which caused him to go down to the ground.  The Claimant’s argument of a work related injury was that the injury occurred on the employer’s premises.  The Employer’s argument was that the injury occurred outside the course and scope of employment.  The Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) granted benefits to the Claimant and the Workers Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB) affirmed the WCJ.

The Commonwealth Court reversed the WCJ and WCAB.  In it’s Opinion, the Court stated when an employee is NOT furthering the business of the employer, then the employee must meet three elements to meet the course and scope of employment test.

An employee who is not furthering the business or affairs of his employer must prove he or she is within the course of his or her employment by satisfying the following three conditions: “(1) the injury must have occurred on the employer’s premises; (2) the employee’s presence thereon was required by the nature of his employment; and (3) the injury was caused by the condition of the premises or  by the operation of the employer’s business thereon.”

The critical thing to remember here is this is not a OR test, it is a AND test, meaning, all three elements must be met in order to meet the elements and therefore fall within the course and scope of employment.

In this case, the Commonwealth Court reversed the decision and ruled that the Claimant did NOT meet the third element of the test.  Here, there was no slip and fall.  There was no tripping over a pot hole or slipping on ice.  The employee was simply running when he felt a pop in pain in his knee.  The Court ruled that the injury was caused by his own act of running, not by any condition of the premises.

Workers’ compensation cases are complex.  How the injury occurred, extent of the injury, timing of the injury, and many other factors influence entitlement to benefits.  That is why it is imperative that you seek legal counsel that is experienced in Workers’ Compensation.  If you have been hurt on the job, we can help.  We have thirteen convenient office locations throughout Central Pennsylvania:  Chambersburg, Mercersburg, Shippensburg, Carlisle, Harrisburg, Duncannon, Halifax, York, Hanover, Gettysburg, New Oxford, and Stewartstown.  We also are now able to meet clients in Lancaster!  If you have been hurt on the job, do not go it alone.  call Mooney & Associates for a FREE consultation.  Remember, we get no fee unless you recover!  Call us at 717-200-HURT or 1-877-632-4656.

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Mark Buterbaugh

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