You work from home but have an employer. One day, while at home, you trip over the dog running to answer the phone, and it is a work call. You're injured from the fall and apply for workers' compensation. Will your claim be denied?
You can get workers' compensation if you work from home, but the location may complicate your claim. State statutes vary, and each claim is decided based on the specific details involved, so it is difficult to say in the abstract what will happen. Still, one contested Oregon case demonstrates the typical issues.
People can and do apply for compensation for injuries sustained on the job but at home. The decision to grant or deny will turn on the wording of state statutes and your case specifics. The Oregon workers' compensation statute says that a compensable injury must "arise out of" and occur "in the course of a worker's employment."
In Sandberg v. JC Penney, a woman actually did trip over her dog while going to her garage, where she kept her employer's materials. Her workers' comp claim was initially denied but on appeal the denial was reversed. The woman was a designer and worked in a studio for her employer only once a week, spending the rest of the time on the road or at home.
In that case, the appellate court decided that her injury did arise out of and in the course of her employment because her home premises were also her work premises. The designer was required to keep materials at home as part of her job and once the home premises and the work premises are deemed one, "it follows that the hazards of home premises encountered in connection with the performance of the work are also hazards of the employment."
Specifics MatterThe appellate court concluded, "Here, because employer did not provide space for claimant to perform all of her work tasks, she was required -- as a condition of her employment and for the benefit of her employer-- to work in her home and garage."
As you can see, specifics make all the difference. Someone who was not a designer or who did not have to travel might not have had the same outcome as Sandberg. It helps to have your claim reviewed by a lawyer so that you emphasize the important details in your case.
Talk to a Lawyer
If you're applying for workers' compensation, speak to a lawyer today. Get help and guidance. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.