It was December 24th and Santa was in a full lather. Christmas Eve was upon us and Santa’s sleigh was packed with lots of toys and goodies. To help ease his workload, Santa brought along his head elf, Buddy, to help deliver all the presents and Christmas cheer. The trip was a smashing success and Santa and Buddy were able to complete their appointed rounds before returning to the North Pole. Buddy and Santa then went to bed for a long winter’s slumber. Unfortunatley, Buddy awoke the next day and couldn’t get out of bed. He had injured his back. When Santa came to visit, Buddy reminded him of what happened that Christmas Eve. Santa had completed their deliveries and were returning to the North Pole. As they soared through the sky on their return trip, they encountered heavy fog over Pennsylvania. As was customary, they stopped to rest the reindeer and to move Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to the front of the pack. While climbing back into Santa’s sleigh, Buddy slipped and wrenched his back. On New Year’s Eve, Buddy still was not feeling better so Santa filed a claim with his workers compensation carrier- Scrooge and Marley. Scrooge and Marley denied the claim asserting that the injury did not occur on the employer’s premises- Santa’s workshop- and, as a result, the injury was not in “the course and scope of employment”. Buddy then called Attorney Tom Cummings at DLP.
QUESTION: Does Buddy have a Workers Compensation case?
ANSWER: YES!!! Under the laws of this Commonwealth, in order to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, an injured worker bears the burden of demonstrating that any injuries he has sustained occurred in the course and scope of his employment. Employees who sustain injuries away from an employer’s premises while travelling to and from work are generally not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Pennsylvania courts, however, have created exceptions to this â€œcoming and goingâ€ rule. The courts have held that an injured employee may be eligible for benefits for injuries sustained travelling to or from work if certain conditions are met: (1) the employment agreement between a claimant and employer included transportation to and from work; (2) the employee has no fixed place of work; (3) the employee is injured while on a special assignment for the employer; and (4) special circumstances indicate that the employee was furthering the business of the employer. In Buddy’s case, Buddy will likely be deemed working on a “special assignment”. Also, as Buddy was helping Santa in his business- delivering toys and presents- he was surely furthering Santa’s business.