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Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Employee Robbed at Work Granted Reconsideration of Workers’ Compensation Claim

What constitutes an "abnormal work condition" entitling an injured employee to workers' compensation?

An employee who was brutally attacked on the job but denied workers' compensation will get another chance to have her claim considered by the Worker's Compensation Appeal board, thanks to a ruling by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

Pamela Murphy was employed at a check cashing business in Levittown, Pennsylvania when the incident occurred. Upon parking her car, she was held at gunpoint by an assailant who forced her to give him the office's alarm access codes. Her husband, who had driven with her to her office, was handcuffed, tied up and forced into the car's back seat.

Holding a gun at her back, the assailant forced Murphy to unlock the company's safe and left her hogtied. When the police arrived, she had chest pain, was unable to speak or breathe and had to be taken by ambulance to a hospital.
She received treatment for injuries to her back and shoulder and psychiatric treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her claim stated that she continued to have nightmares and panic attacks, could not concentrate, was afraid to return to the office and feared the gunman might find her. Adding to her anxiety, her son-in-law had been killed while working as a courier for the same employer six years before.

In denying her claim, The Workers’ Compensation judge and the Appeal Board both concluded that her physical injuries were not serious enough and that the incident was not an "abnormal work condition" entitling her to compensation. Robberies are not uncommon in the check cashing industry. Her employer testified that employees receive security training and personal panic codes and are told to use a dummy safe if robbed.

The Commonwealth Court agreed with the Appeal Board about the severity of the physical injuries but asked the Appeal Board to reconsider whether the robbery was an abnormal working condition. They pointed to the case of a State Trooper who ran over a pedestrian who jumped in front of his patrol car. While accidents are common in law enforcement, the Workers’ Compensation judge found it is unusual for a mentally ill person to run in front of a patrol car for no reason. The unique facts of the case enabled the trooper's claim to be upheld in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The law firm of Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates, P.C., serves the injured in Montgomery County, Bucks County and throughout the Philadelphia area. Our attorneys have extensive experience with workers' compensation claims and other matters. Contact us today at (610)239-7600 or (888)818-4343 for a free consultation.


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