Workers’ Compensation Q&A with Attorney, Tom Cummings | What To Do If You’re Injured at Work while Assisting a Co-worker

Hurt while on the job workers compensation attorney
Date: January 27, 2023

Workplace injuries in Pennsylvania

Ed was working as an order picker at a Luzerne County distribution center. Ed’s co-worker, Phil, severely sliced his hand on a box cutter. Ed left his station and ran to his supervisor’s desk to retrieve a first aid kit. While doing so, Ed tripped over a tote and fell to the ground. Ed was taken to a local hospital and diagnosed with a fractured ankle as a result of his fall. Ed’s supervisor told Ed that he should run the medical bills through a private healthcare plan as he left his workstation and that workers’ compensation would not apply. Ed is wondering if this injury should be covered under his employer’s workers’ compensation policy.

Workers’ Compensation due to an injury while assisting a co-worker

In Pennsylvania, courts have determined that a work injury may be sustained in the “course of employment” under the Pa. Workers’ Compensation Act where the employee is injured on or off the employer’s premises while actually engaged in the furtherance of the employer’s business or affairs. The key issue in assessing a work injury case is whether the employee was “actually engaged in the furtherance of the business or affairs of the employer” which is usually expressed as “in the course of employment”. An activity that does not further the affairs of the employer will take the employee out of the course and scope of employment and may serve as a basis for denial of the workers’ compensation work injury claim.

An injury may be sustained in the “course of employment”, under the Pa. Workers’ Compensation Act, where the employee, although not actually engaged in the furtherance of the employer’s business or affairs: (1) is on the premises occupied or under the control of the employer or upon which the employer’s business or affairs are being carried on, (2) is required by the nature of his employment to be present on the employer’s premises, and (3) sustains injuries caused by the condition of the premises or by operation of the employer’s business or affairs thereon.

In Ed’s situation, he was acting to assist an injured co-worker. In doing so, Ed will likely be viewed as acting “in the furtherance of (his) employer’s business or affairs”. Ed’s leaving his workstation to secure a first aid kit will not likely be viewed as an action that deviated from his employment duties. In Ed’s situation, Ed has a good set of facts to support a workers’ compensation claim.  

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. 

Contact DLP Law for your Workers’ Compensation Claim

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

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.