In an unreported opinion, dated April 12, 2022, the Commonwealth Court, in Waziry vs. WCAB, No. 859 C.D. 2021, found that the Workers’ Compensation Judge’s conclusion that Pennsylvania had jurisdiction of this injury that occurred in Delaware, based on the fact that employment was “principally localized in Pennsylvania”, was correct. This judgment reverses the WCAB (Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board) ruling that they made using their own independent findings rather than determining whether the WCJ’s findings were supported by substantial evidence.
A Bit of Background
Claimant was a truck driver who lived in Texas. Employer drove a truck out to him and helped train him for a few weeks. Then he was on his own. He had to submit logbooks to the employer in Pennsylvania. He received his paychecks in Pennsylvania. His trips would start and end in Pennsylvania. He took the trick to Pennsylvania for maintenance too.
Image Source: unsplash/Imre Tömösvári
As the Commonwealth Court found, it was his only home base. Claimant was injured in December of 2017 in Delaware. But Pennsylvania can still have jurisdiction in certain circumstances. One of these is when the employment is principally localized in Pennsylvania. Principally localized means that employer has a place of business in Pennsylvania, and the employee regularly works at or from that place of business.
What are Extraterritorial Provisions of the Act?
Under these provisions, workers hired in one state but injured in another can still file for workers’ compensation claims for the state of their hire. These considerations determine whether the workers’ compensation benefits provided in one state extend to the injuries that an employee sustains in another state during the course of their employment.
These considerations mostly come into play in cases of out-of-state workers’ injuries.
The Final Verdict
Here, the Commonwealth Court agreed with the WCJ, reversing the Board, finding that Pennsylvania had jurisdiction since the employment was principally localized in Pennsylvania, citing the facts above about Claimant’s employment and connections to Pennsylvania.
The Commonwealth Court found therefore, that there was substantial evidence supporting the WCJ’s findings, and thus the WCJ did not commit an error of law.
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