Court Hold Struck Driver Injured Out of State Entitled to PA Work Comp

The Commonwealth Court has held that a truck driver who receives his dispatch instructions from his home in PA,sometimes starts and ends his trips at his PA home, and spends a substantial part of his time driving in PA, is entitled to Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits. In Williams v. W.C.A.B. (Pohl Transportation), No. 2422 C.D. (June 25, 2010), Claimant sustained a work injury to his right leg while in Vermont, but received Ohio workers’ compensation wage loss benefits.

Claimant initially sought employment with Employer over the phone, but was interviewed in Ohio. Claimant was picked up at his home in Pennsylvania by Employer and driven to the interview, where he also submitted to an orientation, road test, physical, and drug test, and was ultimately hired. Employer does not have any drop areas or facilities in PA. The main office is in Ohio.  Claimant was  paid by the mile, and drove approximately 111,000 total miles for Employer before the work injury, of which 42,000 miles were driven in PA, 35,000 miles in Ohio, and the remainder in various other states. The Workers’ Compensation Judge determined that Claimant’s employment was “principally localized” in PA, as:

  • Claimant lives in PA
  • A substantial part of his work was conducted within PA
  • Claimant was permitted to begin and end his trips at home
  • Over 1/3 of Claimant’s miles were within PA
  • Although dispatch instructions were received from Ohio, Claimant did not regularly work from the Ohio terminal

The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board reversed this Decision, but the Commonwealth Court disagreed, and reinstated the Workers’ Compensation Judge’s Decision, finding that Claimant successfully met his burden of proof under Section 305.2 (d)(4)(iii) of the Workers’ Compensation Act, that he was principally localized in PA. The Commonwealth Court stated that 38% of Claimant’s miles were drive in PA, 32% in Ohio, and the remaining 30% in other states. These numbers supported that Claimant spent a “substantial” or considerable part of his work time, in PA, and was entitled to PA workers’ compensation benefits.