Company owners in California whose business activities require employees to travel to other states in the line of duty may be interested in a recent court case in another state. The lawsuit involves a man who filed for workers’ compensation benefits in a different state from the one in which he suffered an injury. Determining jurisdiction in the event of such an injured worker claim may be tricky.
In many cases, employers ask their workers to enter into a workers’ compensation agreement in which the state that will govern workers’ compensation claims is specified. This can cause problems when injuries occur in a different state than what is specified. In this case, the worker applied for a position as an interstate truck driver that was advertised on the Internet. He was appointed after a telephone interview and could therefore not show that he was employed in his home state.
After his appointment, he had to travel from his home in Pennsylvania to undergo training in Ohio. Following that, he was appointed in Alabama and signed a workers’ compensation agreement stating that he would be subject to that state’s insurance program. He subsequently suffered an injury in New Jersey, and although he started receiving benefits from Alabama workers’ comp, he filed a benefits claim in his home state of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff’s legal counsel justified this by pointing out that an injured worker will naturally want to recuperate at home; while he or she is unable to work, it may be financially impossible to travel to another state for workers’ compensation hearings. However, the Pennsylvania court determined that jurisdiction did not attach simply becasue the man lived in the state.
Most California business owners would likely prefer to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation. The best way to be prepared for an unanticipated problem with an injured worker claim may be to retain the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. In addition to providing sound advice on how to avoid potential lawsuits, a lawyer can also ensure that contracts are drafted in a manner that will protect the client from all eventualities.
Source: pennrecord.com, “Pennsylvania Court says state has no jurisdiction in truck driver’s workers’ comp case“, Vimbai Chikomo, Dec. 3, 2015