Sometimes it seems as if almost every company in almost every industry has to be constantly policed if they are to treat their employees lawfully, particularly when it comes to safety. If it does, it could be because we work with injured people a lot, so we don't get to see all the good companies who are doing their best.
Sometimes, employers and workers' compensation insurers don't agree with an employee's claim. They may believe an injury didn't actually take place at work, or that an illness wasn't caused by a workplace hazard. They may try to blame the sick or injured employee. They may even deny the worker was actually an employee and claim he or she is a contractor. Or, they may simply dispute the amount of benefits the worker deserves.
Sometimes, a workplace injury or illness is so serious that it causes a permanent disability. If it meets the Social Security Administration's definition of disability, the injured person may well qualify for benefits through Social Security disability, usually through Social Security Disability Insurance. Yet injuries and illnesses caused by workplace activities are covered by the Pennsylvania workers' compensation system, too.
Generally, in Pennsylvania, the Workers' Compensation Act does not allow for mental injuries stemming from the workplace. In other words, the legislature has been very hesitant to allow injured workers in Pennsylvania to claim a psychological injury related to work unless very specific factors are met. This makes sense that because it appears that the legislature did not want the common employee to be able to bring a claim for mental stress related to a "mean boss", or a very stressful job. If that were the case, the courts would be flooded with thousands of disgruntled employees who simply hate either their job or their immediate supervisor. Thus, the law requires a heightened standard for mental injuries stemming from mental stimuli at work. In other words, we are talking about injuries that are psychological in nature, and caused by some type of psychological stimulus. That heightened standard, which must be proved by an employee claiming this type of so-called mental-mental injury, is an "abnormal working condition."
As we've discussed before on this blog, the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act was passed in an effort to create a system that could give fair results when a worker was injured on the job, but which didn't require workers to sue their bosses.
If you were to take a serious fall after a local store neglected to clean up a spill, you might file a slip-and-fall accident claim in order to get compensation for your medical bills and other losses. If a drowsy driver slammed into your car, you could sue that driver and his or her insurance company. If you're hurt at work, though, do you have to sue your boss?