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In Workers Comp Claims, Jurisdiction Matters

Joanow Legal Group Jan. 10, 2019

When it comes to workers compensation claims, each state maintains the law within their borders. But which law applies when a company is located in one state but the worker is injured in another? Which law applies when a project is owned by two states?

Such was the case with Zachary Kreschollek, who was injured in 2014 while working on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which is jointly owned and located between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The Story of Zachary Kreschollek

Kreschollek, who lives in Pennsylvania, sustained injuries to his right arm and accepted temporary total disability benefits from New Jersey between the 2014 accident and February 2016. In April 2016, he filed a claim in Pennsylvania for the same condition, arguing that the contract for hire was finalized in Pennsylvania.

Later in 2016, a workers compensation judge ruled against the claim, stating that Kreschollek’s feet were firmly planted in New Jersey at the time of the accident. The ruling was later backed up by the state Workers Compensation Board and the Pennsylvania state court.

How to Determine Jurisdiction

Kreschollek had reason to believe his claim might have been awarded in Pennsylvania. States exercise their jurisdiction in several ways:

  • All states apply their laws if the injury happens within their borders

  • Most states will apply their laws if the contract for hire was made in their state

  • Most states will apply their laws if the principle location of the business is in their state but the injury occurs in another state

What to do if there’s a conflict between where a company is located and where the injury happens? Both state’s laws apply and the worker can choose which state from which to accept benefits.

That’s what happened with Kreschollek. When he accepted benefits from New Jersey, Pennsylvania no longer had any reason to provide compensation.