What is a Work Injury?

Picture of By Joshua B. Goldberg
By Joshua B. Goldberg

Workers' Compensation & Personal Injury Attorney

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Table of Contents

What is a Work Injury?

This question is one of the most frequently asked questions pertaining to workers’ compensation cases is Pennsylvania. In today’s blog post we’re going to answer the question “What is a work injury?” in relation to workers’ comp in PA, go over the different types of work injuries, and cover another frequently asked question from workers’ compensation clients, which is “How do I know if my injury counts as a work injury?”.

What is a work injury? | PA Workers' Compensation Attorney breaks it down!

We have a lot to cover in this blog. It’s all valuable information if you have a PA workers’ comp case on your hands, so stick around, but before we get started read some of our PA workers’ compensation Attorney Joshua B. Goldberg’s client testimonials.

If you’re dealing with a work injury in Pennsylvania and you have a workers’ compensation case on your hands, please contact us today and schedule your consultation with Attorney Joshua B. Goldberg, our Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorney.

Answering the Question “What is a Work Injury?”

This is the main question of the article, and a question we get asked frequently at ARM Lawyers. To answer the question “What is a work injury?” we’ll give our definition of a work injury, which is:

A work injury is an injury that must have been suffered while performing duties for your employer.

That is not to say that this is a hard and fast rule as there are always exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking, if you are doing something that helps or furthers your employer’s business and get hurt doing so, it will be considered a work injury.

Different types of work injuries

There are several different types of work injuries that you can suffer, we’re going to list them below, and while some are much more common injuries than others in the workplace, they can all be classified as a work injury.


This is the most obvious injury and is something that is caused by a specific event that causes a specific injury. An example would be that you lift a box and then feel pain in your back.

Repetitive Activity:

A repetitive injury is one that occurs due to your daily activities at work. It does not need to be caused by a specific event or definable incident. Instead, this occurs where your job duties cause some sort of symptoms, which get worse and worse over time. The more you work, the worse it gets.

You likely will not be able to point to a specific incident that caused your symptoms. Instead, it is something that develops over time and keeps getting worse every time you perform your job duties. You think it will just go away, but every day as you perform your job duties, it gets a bit worse.

Ultimately, it will cause you to complain to your supervisor and perhaps see a doctor. You probably won’t realize that it’s work-related. If there is any doubt in your mind, you should tell your supervisor that you think you have been hurt at work and ask to see a doctor.


In this instance, you would suffer a physical injury, which ultimately results in a mental or psychiatric disability. An example would be suffering a back injury and then complaining of depression due to the injury.

It can also happen in reverse. So, mental stimulus would create a physical injury. Perhaps, stress at work leads to an ulcer, that would be an example of this type of work injury.


A mental/mental claim occurs where you are exposed to a psychological stimulus, which causes a purely mental disability.

In order to prove this type of work injury, you are required to prove abnormal working conditions. This type of work injury is incredibly difficult to prove.

Certain jobs don’t qualify because the job in general causes a potentially stressful set of scenarios. Such as a firefighter answering a call for a fire. That is part of the job and will not be considered abnormal.

Occupational Disease:

An occupational disease is a condition that is caused by employment and related to exposure on the job. Some examples are conditions caused by asbestos exposure; carbon monoxide poisoning; poisoning by arsenic, lead, mercury, manganese, or beryllium; poisoning by phosphorus; poisoning by methanol; anthrax exposure; silicosis exposure, etc.


An aggravation of a pre-existing condition is a work injury. In other words, if you already suffered from a back injury/ailment/condition and you re-injure your back in the course of performing your job duties, this “new” event will be considered a new work injury.


A recurrence, on the other hand, occurs when you begin to suffer from your work injury symptoms again without a specific cause. An example would be if you wake up one morning and simply feel pain again in the body part that you previously injured, without a specific event leading to that pain

So, those are the most common types of work injuries that we see in our Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases. There are more types of work injuries, but we’ve covered a pretty extensive list, so we’ll leave it at that for now.

On to the next topic of this article, which is:

How do I know if my injury counts as a Work Injury?

We’ve already established that a work injury must occur in the course and scope of employment. So, how do you know if your injury counts as a work injury? We’re going to list some examples of situations that would, and would not, count as a work injury.

These examples are as follows:

Furtherance of Employer’s business or affairs:

An injury must have occurred during the furtherance of the Employer’s business or affairs. In other words, are you doing something to help your employer’s business when you get hurt? If so, then the injury should qualify as a work injury.

There are always exceptions to every rule. Things that will matter are whether the injury occurred on or off your employer’s premises; were you on a break, walking to or from your car before or after your shift, or even at a company picnic?

Driving to and from work:

Driving or commuting to and from work is usually not a work injury unless you drive as part of your regular job duties or are paid for your driving time.

Other possibilities:

There are events that may cause a work injury, which do not strictly appear to be related to employment. These injuries may include something that occurs during a social or athletic activity, which is required or “encouraged” by the employer, such as an office party or summer picnic.

Some instances that are not a work injury include: personal horseplay, a violation of a work order of the employer, a violation of the law, an injury that results from a fight with a co-worker, if an employee is intoxicated or if the employee is on personal business, such as running a personal errand during your shift.

“What is a work injury” Conclusion:

In this blog we’ve established that a work injury is an injury that must have been suffered while performing duties for your employer. We’ve covered a list of common types of work injuries, and given some examples of situations that would qualify as a work injury and not a work injury.

We hope this information helps you evaluate your work injury and get a better understanding of your workers’ compensation case based around your work injury.

Contact a Work Injury Attorney

If your work injury took place in Pennsylvania, you might have a legitimate workers’ compensation case, and you should contact a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorney right away. You only have 120 days to report a work injury, so it’s very important that you take action as soon as possible and contact an experienced and trustworthy Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in PA that has a track record of success in dealing with workers’ comp cases.

ARM Lawyers Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation Attorney Joshua B. Goldberg is an expert in Pennsylvania workers’ comp with an impeccable track record as a workers’ compensation attorney in PA. Schedule your free consultation today, and take the next step toward getting the compensation you deserve after your work injury!