Injured On The Job As A Franchise Employee? What Could A Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ruling Mean For Your Case?

If you're an employee of a national franchise located in Pennsylvania and were recently injured on the job, you may be negotiating with your employer about your potential return to work and any workers' compensation benefits you'll be receiving in the interim. Depending upon the circumstances of your injury and the level of cooperation you receive from your employer's workers' comp insurer, you may find yourself debating filing a lawsuit to force the payment of certain benefits. Read on to learn more about how an upcoming ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court could affect your workers' compensation rights as a franchise employee and how you'll want to proceed on a potential claim.

Why are franchise employees treated differently for workers' compensation purposes? 

The case currently before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court involves a franchise owner who failed to purchase workers' compensation coverage for franchise employees. Due to this lapse, an employee who had been injured on the job was required to request compensation from the state general fund rather than a private insurer. The state fund requested that the state's highest court hear this case to determine whether the franchise's parent company should have been required to carry workers' compensation insurance on all franchise employees (or require this as a condition of the franchise license).

Under Pennsylvania's current law, franchise parent companies are not required to carry workers' compensation insurance on employees of a franchise. Because local franchises are incorporated under their own business names, franchise employees aren't generally (or legally) considered employees of the parent company, but instead the smaller franchise business. If this franchise owner doesn't carry workers' compensation insurance, you could find yourself making your own claim from the state general fund.

How could the outcome of this case affect your own workers' compensation claim? 

If the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determines that a franchise's parent company is responsible for workers' compensation coverage for all franchise employees, it's unlikely your own franchise's parent company will suddenly bear responsibility for your workers' compensation claim. However, this could affect your ability to file a lawsuit against the franchise owner for failure to maintain workers' compensation coverage on employees (including yourself) -- as this coverage may no longer be required from the franchise owner, only the parent company.

On the other hand, if the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides that a franchising company is not responsible for injuries of workers employed by its franchisees, you may still be able to maintain a lawsuit against your employer for failure to obtain workers' compensation insurance. You'll also likely be reimbursed for medical expenses and lost wages from the state's general fund in the interim, eventually paying back these funds from a judgment if your lawsuit is successful. Contact workers compensation lawyers for more information.