Pa. Work Injury Lawyers- Workers Compensation

Date: September 21, 2012

Otis worked as a caretaker at a local cemetery. One cool fall day, Otis could not shake the chill in his bones. The cold misty rain falling while Otis raked leaves didn’t help matters. When he took his lunch break, Otis remembered the Christmas gift he received the previous holiday season from Mrs. McGilicuddy- a fifth of fine Irish whiskey. Otis thought that a sip of spirits from the old sod would warm him up. Unfortunately, Otis was in a very warming mood that day and he just about finished off the bottle of spirits in one sitting. Otis, by this point qite inebriated, stumbled back towards his work site to gather up some brush. He lost his balance and fell in a heap breaking his collar bone. A co-workers Heard Otis moaning in pain and called an ambulance. When taken to the hospital for treatment, the doctor noticed Otis’s altered state and smellled alcohol on his breath. In addition to having his collar bone treated, a blood sample was taken which showed that Otis’s blood alcohol level was almaost three times greater than the legal limit for driving. Otis was dismissed form employment by his employer for drinking on the job. He then filed a workers compensation claim for his shoulder injury.

Question: Will Otis be succesful in his workers compensation claim?

Answer: Not likely. Under Pennsylvania law, injuries that would not have occurred but for the intoxication of the employee are excluded from coverage under the Pa. Workers Compensation Act. The employer bears the burden of proving that the employee was intoxicated and that the injury would not have occurred “but for” the intoxication. In this case, the blood alcohol test will be vital to show the intoxication of Otis. As Otis appears to have fallen because he lost his balance as a result of his drunken state, the employer will be able to show that the intoxication caused Otis to fall and his claim will be denied.

If you’ve suffered a work injury and have questions about your claim, contact me at or call (570) 347-1011 for a free consultation.



Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive.  Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.


Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.