Are Interns Entitled to Workers Compensation in Pennsylvania?


Workers’ compensation is one of the most important systems that benefit the labor force of Pennsylvania. A workers’ compensation claim provides employees with the care they need after suffering injuries while working. An effective workers’ compensation program enables workers to focus on their recovery free from the financial stresses of medical care and missing time at work. However, what happens when someone who is not a regular employee, such as an intern, has an accident at work?

How Typical Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Works

The state of Pennsylvania requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If a worker has an accident at work, no matter who is at fault, they are entitled to a percentage of their weekly wages and medical benefits. The only requirement for a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim is that the employee’s accident happened while at work and performing the duties of their job. A workers’ compensation claim is different than personal injury claims because they do not consider fault, and every worker in the state of Pennsylvania qualifies to make one. However, those who are labeled as an intern at work may face challenges when attempting a workers’ compensation claim.

How Workers’ Compensation Applies to Interns in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act defines which workers are eligible to make a workers’ compensation claim. This law does not mention internships, but it does define what makes a person able to make a workers’ compensation claim. The law defines an employee as someone who is paid for their services. However, workers who are “casual” are not eligible to make a workers’ compensation claim. A casual worker could be someone with no set schedule, is not paid for their services, or only provides services to a company occasionally.

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act’s definitions of employees means that an intern might qualify for workers’ compensation depending on the nature of their work. Obviously, unpaid interns do not qualify for workers’ compensation. However, if an intern is paid any amount and works regularly for a company, then they can file a workers’ compensation claim just as long-term employees can.

Exceptions Are Made for Some Workers

Some workers’ compensation exceptions are made for interns who are working at a non-profit organization that meet the definition of a federal non-profit. In many instances, these workers can be exempt from the required workers’ compensation.

Additionally, some exceptions might be made for interns considered “casual” workers. As mentioned above, these workers are not eligible for workers’ compensation. However, some Pennsylvania courts have ruled in favor of a casual worker if they are doing an activity that was formally planned. In other words, courts have prevented companies from escaping accountability by abusing or stretching the duties of an intern.

Call (888) 498-3023 If You’ve Sustained Injuries as an Intern

At Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC, we’ve been helping the people of Pennsylvania obtain justice and compensation they deserve for decades. We believe in being advocates for our clients because we’ve seen firsthand the difference it can make in their lives. Our mission is to hold negligent employers accountable and help injured workers receive the compensation they need to get their life back on track. Attorney J. Jeffrey Watson is certified as a specialist in the practice of workers’ compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Workers’ Compensation Law Section as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In other words, we're equipped to provide you with the thorough assistance that your claim deserves.

Call our Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyers today at (888) 498-3023 for a free consultation of your case. We’re ready to help you discover your options right now.

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