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Telecommuting and workers' compensation

Pennsylvania residents may be unaware that workers' compensation coverage may be available to workers who work a portion or all of their jobs at home. In the event an injury happens while they are completing tasks in the course of their employment, they may be able to pursue a claim from their employers's workers' compensation carriers.

In the past 15 years, some workers' compensation claims have been approved for telecommuters and others working either temporarily or permanently from their home. In one Utah case, a man who was waiting on a package delivery from his employer decided to salt his driveway, which was ice- and snow-packed. The man claimed he was doing so to make it easier for the delivery person to bring the package to his door. While doing so, the man slipped, and the injury resulted in him becoming quadriplegic. Because the man's injury arose in the course of his employment, the Utah Labor Commission ruled in his favor.

In another case, an at-home worker for an interior decorating company was walking to her garage to look at fabric samples. While on her way, she tripped over her dog and was seriously injured. Although Oregon's Workers' Compensation Board initially denied her claim, an appellate court ultimately ruled in her favor.

These cases demonstrate that at-home workers might want to consider filing workers' compensation claims in the event they suffer injuries in the course of their employment from home. As such a claim is likely to be disputed or initially denied, such workers may want to get the help of a workplace accident attorney who may be able to gather the needed evidence and documentation of the injury needed to support the client's position.

Source: Safety+Health magazine, "Working (safely) from home", Tom Musick, Jan. 25, 2015

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