Pamela Joan Van Leer v. WCAB (Hudson); 1127 C.D. 2018; filed Feb. 27, 2019; Judge Covey

A claimant’s duties as a caretaker for a woman suffering from mild dementia come within the domestic service exception to the Workers’ Compensation Act; therefore, claimant’s injuries are not compensable.

The claimant suffered injuries while taking care of her employer, a woman suffering from mild dementia. After the claimant filed a claim petition, the employer filed its answer, alleging that the claimant was precluded from benefits under the domestic service exception of the Act.

A workers’ compensation judge denied the claim petition, concluding that the claimant was engaged entirely in domestic services. The claimant appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, which affirmed the judge’s decision.

On appeal to the Commonwealth Court, the claimant argued that her duties as a caretaker did not fall within the domestic service exception under § 321 of the Act. She maintained that the services she provided were akin to those of a nurse’s aide. The court, however, rejected the claimant’s position and affirmed the dismissal of the claim petition. According to the court, the claimant’s duties consisted entirely of service to the members of the household, which consisted solely of the woman with dementia (the employer). Additionally, the claimant denied providing any other type of services, such as medical care. The claimant’s main responsibility was to make sure that the woman got ready for bed and stayed in bed throughout the evening. Therefore, the court concluded that the domestic service exception to the Act applied and the claim petition was properly dismissed. 


Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2019

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