Navigating Workers’ Compensation for Landscapers and Gardeners

June 21, 2023
Chloe C. Murray
Navigating Workers' Compensation for Landscapers and Gardeners - Stern & Cohen Header Image - Person landscaping and gardening - Workmen's Comp Attorney

Now that it is summer, you will see more landscapers and gardeners out-and-about. Or you may even be a landscaper or gardener yourself come the summer months! These types of jobs come with many benefits—helping customers ensure the beauty of their homes or places of work and getting out and being in the sun. However, these jobs can also come with the danger of a workplace injury. These injuries can range—tripping over a sprinkler system hidden in the ground, cutting your leg on a lawn mower, or falling off a ladder while manicuring a rooftop garden. It is important that if you work in these industries, you are aware of your workers’ compensation rights if you get hurt at work.  

Course and Scope 

Just like any injury, to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, an injury must occur in the course and scope of your employment. This means that just because you are planting flowers at your own home while off the clock, this does not mean that you would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you were injured just because you are a gardener by trade. You must be working when the injury occurs.  

However, you need not be on site for the injury to be compensable. This could mean that you are sent out by your supervisor to buy a new lawn mower and while at the store you slip and fall on a wet floor. Another example would be if you travelled from home-to-home landscaping and between two homes, you were involved in a motor vehicle accident.  In both examples, while you were not specifically performing the act of a landscaper and cutting the grass or paving the sidewalk, you were still within the course and scope of your employment when the injury occurred. On the other hand, just because you think you may have been in the course and scope of your employment, there are some caveats to these generalities, and it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side to guide you through the process.  

Who Is Responsible? 

If your employer deems that you were in the course and scope of your employment, one issue that may arise, specifically with landscapers, is who is responsible for a work injury. This usually occurs if there are both contractors and subcontractors involved. Sometimes the question is who your employer is—the general contractor or the subcontractor. This is often a litigated issue in court. Additionally, even if a subcontractor is deemed responsible, they may not carry workers’ compensation insurance. Even if the subcontractor does not carry insurance, do not fret—you may be entitled to benefits via the general contractor.  

Reporting an Injury 

Regardless of the legal issues that may arise regarding course and scope of employment and employee-employer issues, it is important to remember that if you sustain an injury, you must report it to a supervisor immediately. There are significant repercussions that can occur if an injury is not reported. Most significantly, a work injury will never be accepted if you fail to report it within 120 days (about 4 months) of the incident. This means that regardless of the severity of the injury, you will not be entitled to any workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, a judge can question your credibility if you fail to report the injury soon after it occurs.  

What Happens Next? 

Once an employer becomes aware of an injury, they are required to either accept or deny the claim. If they accept the claim, you should receive workers’ compensation benefits, either in payment of medical treatment, payment of wage loss benefits or both. Even if an insurance company or your employer tells you they are aware of the injury and will accept it, it is important to speak to a lawyer to understand all your rights. If they deny the claim, you may still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Usually this is when a case goes into litigation and having a lawyer on your side is important. 

While the rights of a gardener or landscaper are like those of any other profession, it is imperative to ensure that when you are busy in the summer months cleaning the mulch or mowing the grass, that you know how to act in the unfortunate event that you may be injured.  


If you or a loved one has been hurt at work, call Stern & Cohen at (215) 999-1443 or fill out a contact form below to get in contact with a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorney.