The work environment in Maryland as well as across the country has been changing, gradually allowing an increasing number of workers to work at least part time from their home. What people may not know, however, is that in some cases telecommuters may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits even if they are working at home when they suffer an injury.
Two workers’ compensation cases underscore the point that benefits may be available to at-home workers. In a case out of Oregon in 2010, a woman who worked as an at-home worker for an interior design company tripped and injured herself while she was walking to retrieve fabric samples from her garage. Although the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board initially denied her claim for benefits, their decision was overturned by the state Court of Appeals. The appellate court found that the woman was entitled to benefits for the injuries she suffered because they occurred while she was working on the job.
Similarly, a Utah case in 2000 led to a man’s recovery of benefits for his injuries. He was at home waiting for a package to arrive from the company for which he worked. In order to facilitate the delivery, he went outside and started clearing the ice and snow from his driveway. While doing so, he slipped and fell and became paralyzed as a result. The Utah Labor Commission ruled in tfavor of the worker since his injury occurred in the course of his employment.
Workers’ compensation coverage is mandated in order to provide for workers who are injured while they are on the job. Insurance companies will often try to minimize the benefits they will be forced to pay. For that reason, many workers find it helpful to seek the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney when filing and pursuing a claim.
Source: Safety+Health magazine, “Working (safely) from home”, Tom Musick, Jan. 25, 2015