SW Legal studies in Business

Injury Suffered by Telecommuter Subject to Workers Compensation in Some Cases

Telecommuter employee suffered serious injury when assaulted by a neighbor when working at her home. While she was at a place of work, the assault was not related to employment, so she did not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Topic Employment Law
Key Words Workers’ Compensation; Home Office; Criminal Assault
C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Due to lack of office space at the employer’s location, for six years Wait worked out of her home as a full time employee,. One day, while fixing lunch in her home, a neighbor stopped by the house and then brutally assaulted her. She suffered major injuries and filed for workers’ compensation benefits. The insurance company refused the benefits, so Wait sued. Trial court held for insurer, Wait appealed.

Decision Affirmed. Workers’ compensation is liberally construed in favor of compensation, but does not go beyond the legislative intent. An injury must “arise out of” and occur “in the course of” employment to qualify. Arise out of refers to the cause or origin of the injury; in the course of refers to the time, place and circumstances of the injury. Wait was on an employer-approved lunch break and the injury was suffered during the source of employment, which happened to be in her home. However, the attack by her neighbor did not arise out of employment, so the injury was not compensable under workers’ compensation. The neighbor had no connection to the employer or to the performance of Wait’s work. Employees who are exposed to members of the public as part of their work, would be compensated in such instances, but that was not the case here.
Citation Wait v. Travelers Indemnity Company of Illinois, ---S.W.3d--- (2007 WL 3391435, Sup. Ct., Tenn., 2007)

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