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Compensation for State Trooper

Pennsylvania PA Compensation Lawyer

Earlier this month, on November 4, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court came down with a ruling that ordered worker’s compensation for a state trooper who was involved in a fatal crash on I-81. The crash occurred on November 29, 2006 in the East Pennsboro Township.

Philip Payes, the state trooper involved in the accident, was driving to his night shift at the state police barracks in Newport, Pennsylvania, when a twenty-eight year old woman named Robin Hull drove into his path. The woman, who was from Hampden Township and was reported missing by her family, collided with Payes’ cruiser. Payes, who had been a state trooper for twelve years, tried to get the woman out of the car while simultaneously trying to direct traffic around the accident, but the woman was ultimately pronounced dead at the site of the accident.

Hull had a known mental illness and was seen by witnesses walking along the highway before getting involved in the accident.

Following the accident, Payes filed a worker’s compensation claim, saying that he became “psychologically disabled” following the accident. After initially filing the claim, both the Workers Compensation Appeal Board and the Commonwealth Court ruled that he was not eligible to receive any worker’s compensation benefits. After the accident, Payes did not work for more than a month, and when he did finally return to work, his feelings of anxiousness hurt his ability to perform his police work.


Ultimately, the State Supreme Court ruled in favor of Payes’ claim, saying that the incident was quite a traumatic one, even by the standards of police work. This overturned the rulings of the Appeal Board and the Commonwealth Court, who both said that Payes was not eligible for such benefits because police work is inherently traumatic.

The Supreme Court’s ruling finally brought this case to a close after six years. In the majority opinion, Justice Seamus P. McCaffery noted that this event was not something expected or anticipated in a state trooper’s line of work — that it was “singular” in nature and therefore an exception to the rulings of the Appeal Board and the Commonwealth Court.

The case ruling, however, was not a unanimous decision. Chief Justice Ronald Castille noted that it was a close case, and another justice, J. Michael Eakin, filed a dissenting opinion saying that this event was not abnormal enough to justify giving Payes the benefits.

Payes received both worker’s compensation benefits and unemployment benefits after the Supreme Court’s ruling. For more information about the case, see