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How low can employers and workers' compensation insurers go?

Pretty low, as many Pittsburgh-area workers who have suffered on-the-job injuries can tell you. There are many cases in which an employee is hurt at work, and then files a legitimate claim for deserved workers' compensation only to find out that their employer and employer's workers' comp insurer will try to deny benefits.

We read recently of an Allegheny County case that might make your jaw hit the floor. A construction worker was severely injured while trying to rescue a worker who had fallen into a concrete pit on a Sewickley Borough job site. The man's employer and the employer's insurance company both argued that he should not receive workers' comp because his "compulsion to act as a Good Samaritan was not employment-related."

We are glad to share the news that a Commonwealth Court panel rejected that argument and ruled that the worker couldn't be denied his workers' comp benefits.

According to, the construction worker rushed to assist a fellow worker who had fallen into the pit. However, the construction worker's rescue mission was too late -- the victim was found dead. As the Good Samaritan climbed out of the pit at a sewage plant a few miles northwest of Pittsburgh, methane gas overwhelmed him, causing him to fall about 20 feet from a ladder. He injured his head, left leg, knee, foot, back, ribs and lungs in the fall.

A judge wrote in an opinion that the rescue attempt did indeed fall "within the course and scope of (the worker's) employment."

Sometimes when injuries are severe and financial stakes are high, an insurer will try to deny workers' compensation benefits to protect its bottom line. A Pittsburgh attorney experienced in workers' comp appeals can help worksite injury victims get the benefits they need and deserve.

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