If you saw someone in need of assistance in your workplace during your working hours, would you rush to render aid? What if helping the person put you at risk of physical injury? It is probably safe to say most people would do their best to help those in need. For a long time, you would have been ineligible to receive compensation if you were injured in the course of helping others while working. However, now you may qualify for workers’ compensation in such a circumstance.
In 2003, section 601 of the Workers’ Compensation Act was expanded to include Good Samaritan employees who rendered aid in certain situations. Examples include preventing a crime, providing first aid or rescue in an emergency and apprehending a person committing a crime. However, the only employees who could take such action and be compensated for any injuries they sustained were volunteer emergency personnel.
Now, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court says an employee in any industry who renders aid during the course of work may be compensated. The expansion comes after the court rejected at least two employers’ arguments that workers injured while rendering aid were not covered because they were not volunteer emergency personnel. The court found that the employees were within the scope of their employment when they gave fellow employees emergency aid and thus were eligible for workers’ compensation.
This means that employers can no longer deny benefits for employee injuries sustained while helping other people as long as the workers remained within the scope and course of employment. While this is great news for Pennsylvania workers who are always ready to lend a hand, it is not without complications. Employees who have been injured on the job while giving aid are encouraged to speak with an attorney should they experience any difficulties with their claims.
Source: JDSupra Business Advisor, “Commonwealth Court Expands the Scope of Good Samaritan Amendment to the Workers’ Compensation Act,” Denise Elliott, Aug. 27, 2015