The Kiss of Death Workers’ Compensation case revisited. Back by popular demand. I got a lot of inquiries about that blog post. We get inquiries for workmens compensation, workmen’s compensation workmens compensation, workman’s compensation, workers compensation and sometimes with or without the apostrophe in all different forms. I’m not an English teacher so call me if you have questions to any of them.
So I was writing about holiday parties and what may happen if you get injured at a work party or social event. These types of cases fall under the area of what we work injury lawyers call ‘course of employment.’ Of course common sense will tell you that you have to be injured working to get workmens compensation but course of employment has a much more technical meaning. One definition is as follows:
Injuries may be sustained in the course of employment in two distinct situations: 1.) where the employee, whether on or off the employer’s premises, is injured while actually engaged in the furtherance of the employer’s business or affairs, or 2.) where the employee although not actually engaged in the furtherance of the employer’s business or affairs a) is on the premises occupied or under the control of the employer, or upon which the employer’s business or affairs are being carried on; b) is required by the natured of his employment to be present on his employer’s premises; and c) sustains injuries caused by the condition of the premises of by operation of the employer’s business or affairs thereon. A mouthful isn’t it.
In the spring of 1981 Mr. Sallie left his home at 7:30 a.m. to go to work in good health. Two hours later he returned home complaining that he did not feel well, chills, high temperature, and a purple mark on left elbow. As the day progressed and he worsened he was taken to St. Francis Hospital in New Castle. blood tests showed meningococcal septicemia. He was transferred to Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh and died. The next day 7 of his coworkers were tested and one was a carrier of a form of the disease but not symptomatic. Several days to two weeks before the Decedent died he was observed kissing his co-employe on the cheek prior to her leaving for maternity leave. It was the claimant-widows position that her husband contracted this fatal disease from the co-employee who was a carrier, while the decedent was at work in the course of his employment.
The Commonwealth court found the Decedent was in a place where his employment required him to be, and that he died as the result of what would have been merely a harmless act of goodwill toward co-employee. Thus the act of the Decedent was merely an innocent or inconsequential departure from his line of duty and certainly not an abandonment of his duty. Accordingly, the court found the evidence and testimony of the workers’ compensation widow’s attorney credible that the Decedent died as a result of being exposed and infected by his coworker at work in the course of his employment.