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Definition of Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is the practical authority that has been granted to a formally constituted legal body or political leader to make pronouncements on and deal with legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility. In other words, jurisdiction is the right, power or authority to apply and interpret the law. Jurisdiction also has to do with the geographical area or subject matter to which that authority applies.

In regard to workers' compensation, jurisdiction has to do with which state's workers' compensation laws will apply when a workers' compensation claim involves more than one state. The matter of jurisdiction can be extremely important to a worker who has a work-related injury or illness. For example, a worker suffers a work-related injury or illness in New York, but their contract of employment was signed in Pennsylvania. Which state's workers' compensation laws will apply? The truth is that both of the states' laws can apply. The injured worker has the option of deciding which state's workers' compensation benefits are best. The injured worker can then file a claim in that state. In fact, the injured worker may be able to go on and file a claim in the second state after being paid benefits in the first state, or the worker may file two workers' compensation claims, one in each state. In this event, most states agree to offset benefits, meaning the injured worker will not get paid full benefits by both states.

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