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Can you get workers’ comp if you get hurt helping someone else?

That's a question that will soon go before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. An appeals court has ruled that an injured worker was, in fact, eligible for compensation for injuries sustained as he tried to help a fellow worker who had fallen into a pit of concrete and subsequently died. The worker's employer, Pipeline Systems, and the employer's insurer, Continental Western Insurance, had initially denied the worker's claim, saying he was not a trained first responder and that he was not engaged in an official professional capacity when he attempted to assist his fellow worker. 

The worker in question, Franklin Pound, had been employed as a pipe installer at a sanitation plant. When a fellow worker fell into a concrete pit, Pound tried to help, and injured his leg, ribs, knee, foot, head, back and lungs when methane within the pit rendered him unconscious and he fell 20 feet. Pound claimed that he had not been made aware of methane within the pit, and nobody attempted to stop him when he tried to render assistance to his co-worker. 

There is not a rich backlog of related case law to consult for this case. Therefore, it seems that when the Supreme Court hears the case, two issues will likely come to the fore:

  • Whether the worker who intervened on behalf of an injured person was in fact engaged in work-related duties at the time of the incident
  • Whether workers' compensation benefits could extend to workers who are not trained as first responders when those people intervene to help someone who has been injured

Many workers' compensation claims get denied and appealed. Not all of those cases end up being argued at the Supreme Court level. In any case, if you have been injured at work, it's important to consult with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer who can come up with a strategy to help you get the assistance you need to recover. 

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