Can You Get Workers’ Compensation If You Work From Home?

A silver lining of sorts from the forced closure of workplaces in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic was the discovery of how easy it was to transition to working remotely. It worked out so well that the percentage of employed adults working from home jumped from 20% before the pandemic to 71% during it. Regarding people working from home, a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center discovered that 54% of people would welcome the opportunity to make home their new workplace.

You may be working from the comfort of your home office or dining room table, but you remain an employee, which brings up the question of workplace injuries and illnesses that occur outside of a traditional workplace. As you continue reading about workers’ compensation benefits for people working from their homes, keep in mind that it’s primarily the circumstances of the incident that determines whether you qualify for benefits through workers’ comp. A Bend workers’ compensation lawyer can be of assistance by reviewing the circumstances of your claim, applying the law to them, and determining whether you qualify for workers’ compensation.

What is a workplace for purposes of workers’ compensation claims?

Workplace injuries and illnesses should be thought of more in terms of the scope of your employment than physical location. For example, the driver of a truck may be injured in an accident while making a delivery miles from their employer’s business location where they pick up the truck each day. The delivery is within the scope of employment, so an injury would be work related and covered through workers’ compensation insurance.

A different conclusion would be reached if the accident and injury happened when the delivery driver was engaged in activities of a personal nature. For example, a driver stopping at a store to buy a sofa for home would not be acting within the scope of employment, so an injury caused by tripping and falling in the store would not be covered by workers’ compensation.

Tripping over a dog while working at home qualifies for compensation

An Oregon lawsuit in 2011 established the rules for determining whether a person working from home qualifies for workers’ compensation for an injury. A woman was employed as a decorator and primarily worked from home, with her employer requiring its decorators to work at its studio only one day each week. The other days of the week, the woman worked at client homes or at her own home, where she kept samples of her employer’s fabric collection in her garage to sell to clients.

The woman was injured when she tripped over her dog and fractured a bone while walking to her garage to get fabrics to restock the vehicle that she used to visit clients. Her claim for workers’ compensation benefits was denied because her employer determined that the injury was caused by a hazard in the home over which it, the employer, had no control.

The injured woman appealed the decision of a workers’ compensation administrative law judge upholding the denial of benefits by her employer. A court ruled in the injured woman’s favor. 

The court found that an injury must arise from and be in the course of employment to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. An injury arises from a person’s employment if it is the result of a risk associated with the nature of their work or from a risk caused by the work environment. 

Whether the injury occurs in the course of employment is dependent upon a review of the following factors:

  • Circumstances under which the injury or illness occurred.
  • Place and time of the injury.
  • The existence of a connection between the illness or injury and the person’s employment.

For instance, did the injury happen during the person’s work hours while engaging in work activities? If so, it may support a conclusion that the injury was in the course of employment.

The court concluded that an employer cannot demand that an employee furnish the work premises and then be permitted to claim a lack of control over those premises to deny the employee workers’ compensation coverage. As far as the injury being within the course of the decorator’s employment, the court determined that the activities that the woman engaged in at the time of the injury were on behalf of her employer.

Contact a Bend workers’ compensation attorney

If you have been denied benefits for a work-related injury or illness that occurred while working from home, you need a Bend workers’ compensation attorney to aggressively fight for the benefits that you deserve. A consultation with an attorney provides you with legal advice and guidance about the best options for pursuing your workers’ compensation claim.

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