PA Workers’ Comp Claim Denied – Armed Robbery Part of the Job?

Since we limit our practice to representing injured workers’ in PA workers’ compensation cases, we see frequent situations when an injured worker is treated poorly by the workers’ comp insurance carrier. Sometimes, though, the situation seems way beyond common sense and logic. I am currently litigating one of those cases, against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania/Liquor Control Board.

When a work injury in PA is emotional or psychological in nature, the condition must have been caused by an “abnormal working condition” to be eligible for Pennsylvania workers’ comp benefits. In other words, the emotional or psychological condition must be cause by something other than a subjective response to normal working conditions. What determines “normal working conditions” depends on the occupation in question.

Firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians and other first responders are normally expected to face much more stressful conditions than a secretary, accountant, factory worker or construction worker, for example. An event happening to a policeman may be a normal working condition, but if the same event happened to an automobile mechanic, that would be an abnormal working condition. These cases often depend greatly on the facts involved in each case.

I currently represent a clerk who works for Commonwealth of Pennsylvania/Liquor Control Board. The clerk was the victim of an armed robbery, and suffered emotional or psychological injuries as a result of this incident. To my surprise, and disgust, the LCB denied the claim, stating on the Notice of Denial, “Incident is not considered an abnormal working condition for this employer.”

Has society deteriorated to the point that we consider the armed robbery of a retail store to be the normal part of a clerk’s workday? I certainly hope the Workers’ Compensation Judge tells the LCB that society expects more from its members. Armed robbery should never be considered a “normal” part of a reasonable society.