The Lawletter Vol 40 No 5
Workers' compensation claims are often straightforward where the worker has suffered a clear work-related injury in the jurisdiction in which the employer is located. Where a worker has been injured in a work-related accident while traveling in a different state for work, however, different jurisdictions impose specific jurisdictional restrictions notwithstanding the workers' compensation insurance contract. See McIlvaine Trucking, Inc. v. Workers' Comp. Appeal Bd. (States), 810 A.2d 1280 (Pa. 2002) (holding that where a worker who regularly traveled to other states for work was injured in Pennsylvania, the parties' agreement to be bound only by the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Act was unenforceable as against Pennsylvania public policy, which requires in-state workers' injuries to be governed only by the Pennsylvania workers' compensation laws).
Most states also hold that when a workers' compensation accident occurs outside the forum jurisdiction, the court's jurisdiction is determined by where the employment contract was formed, not by where the accident and injury occurred. See Franco-Lopez v. Martinez, 433 S.W.3d 454 (Mo. Ct. App. 2014); see also Fed. Ins. Co. v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd., 165 Cal. Rptr. 3d 288 (Ct. App. 2013) (holding that the place of the employment relationship is the most realistic place for determining which workers' compensation law to apply).
There are also instances where an injured worker will have a choice of multiple jurisdictions in which to file a workers' compensation action, but only where the different states have a causal interest in the case. Garcia v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 12 F.3d 308 (1st Cir. 1993); Fed. Ins. Co., 165 Cal. Rptr. 3d 288.
Finally, a workers' compensation claimant who receives benefits from one state may file to recover benefits in another state as long as there is no possibility of a double recovery for the same injury. Williams v. Johnson Custom Homes, 288 S.W.3d 607 (Ark. 2008); Eadie v. Complete Co., 142 S.W.3d 288 (Tenn. 2004).