The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Monday, February 27, 2017

Court Rules Employee Shot in Front of his Workplace Can Receive Workers’ Comp

Does Workers Compensation cover an employee on the grounds of the workplace?

While employees are not covered by workers’ compensation during the time they commute to and from work, a Commonwealth Court in Philadelphia has just ruled that the employee of a convenience store who was shot while sitting in a car just outside his workplace, is entitled to workers’ benefits. Clearly, the circumstances under which workers’ compensation is available to employees are not cut and dried. This is why, if you suffer any injuries related to your workplace, it is important that you consult with a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney who will know precisely what your rights are and how to protect them.

The Particulars of this Case

The convenience store in question, BC Food Market, had 16 surveillance cameras since the store had an ongoing shoplifting problem. The employee, Shah Mahar-Ullah, a native of Bangladesh, had been employed at the store for some time, working 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, and receiving $1200 in pay every 2 weeks. On one occasion, he called the police and had a woman arrested for shoplifting. The woman’s relatives subsequently threatened him.

Then, in May, 2008, just after he had closed the shop, Mahar-Ullah was shot multiple times while sitting in a car with another employee (who was also shot). The crime was committed by two people whose faces were covered. Muhar-Ullah was left with serious injuries, having been shot in the chest, leg, thumb,and liver and reports that he is now permanently disabled.

Originally when Mahar-Ullah applied for benefits, BC Food Market tried to deny him such aid; Mohammad Rahman, co-owner of the establishment, claimed that the employee was pulling away when he was shot and was no longer on the workplace property. He also alleged that the shooting may have been committed by someone in Mahar-Ullah’s family because the employee had been having marital difficulties. It was discovered that the store wasn’t insured for work-related injuries at the time of the shooting, meaning that any potential payments would fall to the Uninsured “Employer Guaranty Fund.”

The Court’s Decision

After weighing the elements of the case, Judge Michael H. Wojcik decided the case in favor for the plaintiff, noting that his injuries were job-related [1] since the victim was shot as a result of a  shoplifting that had taken place in the store and [2] even though the shooting happened on the public street right outside the store, it was work-related because that section of street constitutes part of the employer's property. This was especially true, the judge decided, because the store had no parking lot and the only access to the business was from the street.

Judge Wojcik, citing previous rulings as precedents, concluded that “once an employee is on the employer's premises, actually getting to or leaving the employee's work station is a necessary part of that employee's employment." His findings were upheld by both a workers’ compensation judge and the Workers Compensation Appeal Board.

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