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Law Allows Caregiver to Get Workers’ Comp After Being Stabbed by Son

Posted on Jan 23, 2014

A Pennsylvania court has ruled that a woman providing caregiver services will be awarded worker’s compensation after being stabbed in the throat and chest by her unstable son.

In April 2009, Laura O'Rourke was working as a caregiver for her 33-year-old son, Joshua Gartland, under a state-paid contract when he crept into her bedroom one night and stabbed her in the neck and chest with a 12-inch kitchen knife. Although O'Rourke’s husband was able to stop the attack, she was left with several injuries and alleged post-traumatic stress disorder following the assault.

Gartland, who had a "long history of drug problems," was suffering from significant health issues that had led to the amputation of one of his legs. Under the terms of the state care contract, Gartland was living with his parents in O'Rourke's Westmoreland County house, but was sentenced to 12- to 25-years in state prison for attempted murder and aggravated assault after the incident.

A state workers’ compensation judge ruled that O'Rourke’s injuries were due to her employment as her son's caregiver and awarded her $460 a week in worker compensation. However, her son challenged the decision and appealed to the state Worker's Compensation Appeal Board, who sided with him and denied her benefits.

O'Rourke finally received payment on January 8, when the Commonwealth Court reversed the board's ruling on the basis that Gartland was living in O'Rourke's home as part of a state caregiver mandate, so she was indeed injured in the course of her employment.

To find out how much you could be owed in workers’ comp benefits, order our FREE book, The Northern California Workers’ Compensation Survival Manual or call the Ledgerwood Law Group at 888-761-7383 to speak to an attorney about your case.

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