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Commonwealth Court denies benefits for holiday party accident
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Commonwealth Court denies benefits for holiday party accident

A big factor in many controversial workers’ compensation cases is whether the injured person was doing something that was in the course of his or her work duties at the time of the accident. When an employer can convince the administrative law judge that the injury occurred outside of the victim’s work duties, the victim will not receive workers’ comp benefits.

In an example, a woman who suffered broken bones and cuts when she fell down the stairs outside of a workplace holiday party has been denied workers’ compensation by Commonwealth Court. The accident occurred during a party for the staff of state Sen. Michael Stack, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor-elect.

A supporter of Stack threw the party in December 2010. The party took place at a private venue, according to an article by PennLive. While leaving the party, the woman slipped and fell on the stairs, suffering fractures, cuts and other injuries.

She filed for workers’ compensation, arguing that attending the party was within the scope of her job. The party was intended to boost morale among Stack’s staff, and attending furthered Stack’s interests, she said.

The Pennsylvania Senate contested the claim, which denied by the state Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. The Senate argued that going the party was not mandatory, pointing out that staffers were required to use vacation time or compensatory time to attend. Commonwealth Court upheld that ruling earlier in January.

The plaintiff, who worked as a receptionist, was laid off from Stack’s staff in May 2011. Her current physical condition is not known.

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