Workers’ compensation can be a tricky area of the law to understand because of how it is set up. Under the workers’ compensation scheme, if you get hurt while on the job, you can get compensated for your personal injuries without filing a lawsuit. In fact, with workers’ compensation, you get compensated precisely because you can’t file a lawsuit. This might seem counterintuitive, but this is just the beginning of how unique workers’ compensation issues can be.
A recent case in Pennsylvania provides an excellent example of this.
Convenience Store Clerk Shot
Back in May, 2008, a convenience store in Philadelphia was having shoplifting problems. They installed 16 surveillance cameras and these resulted in one of their patrons getting arrested for shoplifting. Soon after the arrest happened, the clerk who had been working when the arrest happened starting getting threats from the shoplifter’s relatives.
One night, after closing the store, the clerk was sitting in his car with a co-worker. The car was parked at the curb just outside the store, which had no parking lot. Two people with masks on approached the car, stood in front of it, and shot into it repeatedly. The clerk was hit multiple times, leaving him permanently disabled.
Workers’ Compensation Handles On-the-Job Injuries
Workers’ compensation exists so that people who get hurt on the job can recover.
So was the convenience store clerk in this case “on the job”?
In the court case that resulted, the store owner argued that the clerk wasn’t. Not only was the clerk’s shift over and the store closed, but he was in his car on the street. The store owner also claimed that the car had pulled away from the curb before the shooting, and that the shooting was because of the clerk’s marital problems, but these statements were overcome with evidence during the case.
The judge reviewing the case, though, decided that this was a workplace injury. The fact that the car was parked on the street didn’t change this because there was no parking lot for workers and the section of the street was part of the store’s property. Additionally, under Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law, “actually getting to or leaving the employee’s work station is a necessary part of that employee’s employment.” Finally, the injuries came as retaliation for the shoplifting arrest – something that was definitively work-related.
Because these factors all made the shooting a workplace injury, the clerk was able to get the workers’ compensation he needed to recover from his severe personal injuries.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
Whether the store clerk was “on the job” was just one of the big issues in this Pennsylvania case. In our workers’ compensation blog post for next week, we’ll go over another one of its issues – why the store owner was trying to deny his employee compensation.
Just because these cases are from out of state doesn’t mean they can’t shed light on how workers’ compensation works in St. Joseph, Missouri. While the details might be different, the big questions remain the same.