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Q: I work for a restaurant chain that operates in several states. The corporate home office is chartered in Delaware. A few weeks ago I suffered a severe burn on the job in Pennsylvania. Which state’s workers’ compensation program is supposed to cover my acc

A:

We think there’s something you’re telling us. Our guess is that someone at your workplace is pressuring you not to file a workers’ compensation claim in Pennsylvania, but to file a claim in Delaware or else file no claim at all.

That’s almost certainly not the best option for you. If you are employed in Pennsylvania and you were hurt at your Pennsylvania job while performing job-related duties, then Pennsylvania workers’ compensation covers your case.

Now, it’s true that many large corporations—and even more smaller ones—have registered their business in Delaware and received a Delaware state charter. The effect of this is that some legal requirements for business decision-making at the highest levels will be resolved under Delaware law. Since the early 1900s, Delaware has aggressively promoted its business-friendly political and legal system in order to attract corporate business to the state; some critics say Delaware has grown too lax in policing shoddy and unethical business practices.

But that’s really a story for another day, because it’s irrelevant here. The Delaware corporate rules only apply to huge business matters, not small issues such as payment for a job injury. Workers’ compensation across state lines simply doesn’t apply to your case. Any business with at least one employee that operates in Pennsylvania must carry workers’ compensation coverage for all of its workers. Even if your restaurant chain operates only a single outlet in Pennsylvania, that one store or restaurant would have to follow Pennsylvania law and obtain insurance coverage to repay you for your medical bills, lost work income, occupational therapy, and permanent disability. If your boss or supervisor is trying to get you to file a claim elsewhere, it may potentially delay your benefit payments.

Your case brings up an interesting point, however, that may be helpful to some of our readers who may be dealing with workers’ compensation claims between two different states. Consider, for example, these situations:

  • A truck driver based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who is injured in a highway accident while driving his truck in Missouri.
  • A Pennsylvania fast-food restaurant manager who is injured in a slip and fall accident while attending mandatory training sessions in Oak Brook, Illinois.
  • An associate at a Harrisburg company who is crushed by a malfunctioning mechanical hotel door when she attends an annual business meeting in San Francisco.

Because all three of these workers were hurt while performing job functions, they are covered under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law, even though they were away from their normal workplaces at the time of the injury. Alternatively, they may be able to claim benefits under workers’ compensation laws for Missouri, Illinois, or California—the states where the injuries occurred—especially if their companies had a business presence in those states. Each also has a potential third-party claim for losses caused by a negligent driver, restaurant training school, or hotel, respectively; those claims could include damages such as pain and suffering that aren’t paid by workers’ compensation claims.

A workers’ compensation attorney would be best able to advise these people which sort of claim would give them the greatest scope for a financial recovery.

You, too, can benefit from listening to an attorney’s advice that is customized to the specifics of your case. To schedule a FREE consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Harrisburg, contact Schmidt Kramer at 888-476-0807 toll-free. In addition to a free conference, Schmidt Kramer would also like to offer a FREE copy of their client brochure, Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured at Work?

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