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Woman Stabbed by Son Awarded PA Workers’ Compensation

Posted on 2/7/2014

A Westmoreland County woman has been awarded PA Workers’ Compensation benefits for a stabbing incident that involved her own son.

Laura O’Rourke was hired under a state paid contract to care for her 33-year-old son, Joshua Gartland, after his leg was amputated in 2007. Gartland had additional physical and mental health issues caused by a history of drug abuse. He moved into his mother’s North Huntingdon in July 2008, nine months before the April 2009 stabbing.

On April 11, 2009, Gartland assaulted his mother as she slept in her own bedroom. He used a 12-inch kitchen knife to repeatedly stab O’Rourke in the throat and chest. O’Rourke’s husband stopped the attack. Gartland Gartland pleaded guilty to attempted homicide, aggravated assault and other charges and is currently serving a 12- to 25-year state prison sentence for attempted murder and aggravated assault.

O’Rourke suffered both physical and psychological injuries, including disabling post-traumatic stress disorder.

O’Rourke was awarded $460 a week in workers’ compensation, but lost her benefits when Gartland challenged the award. The Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation Appeal Board agreed with Gartland that the injury was not work-related, so O’Rourke was ineligible for benefits.

She appealed to the Commonwealth Court. On January 15, 2013, the Commonwealth Court ruled that O’Rourke was eligible for workers’ compensation because she had a business relationship with her son and the injury occurred in the course of her employment as his caregiver.

If you have a non-traditional work-related injury, don’t give up on Workers’ Compensation benefits. Many on-the-job injury attorneys offer free consultations. Take advantage of these consultations to learn if you have a case.

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