Court awards workers comp claim to man who fell walking from bed to desk while working remotely

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GERMANY – A civil court in Germany has ruled that a man who was teleworking from his home when he was injured is entitled to worker’s compensation.

The courts ruled that he was traveling to work when he left his bedroom to his home office when he was injured.

The COVID pandemic has forced numerous workers to telework in hopes that by doing so, office staff would lessen the risk of transmission.

While this has been a normal practice in some areas since the peak of the pandemic, it is doubtful that there had been any previous considerations for those that are injured while working from home…until now.

In Germany, a worker who was allegedly walking down his stairs to his home office from his bed slipped and fell. The fall was significant enough that he suffered from spinal injuries.

After seeking medical treatment, the unidentified man went to his employer, also unidentified, and sought financial relief through Worker’s Compensation.

When the employer heard the claim they immediately denied it since he was at home and not on the employer’s property.

That is when the man decided it was time to take the case to court in hopes of being compensated for the medical bills he incurred. When his case was first heard in the lower social court and then a regional social court, there were mixed verdicts.

The lower court determined that the man’s claims were valid as he was traveling to his home work office from his bedroom.

They determined that the walk from his bed to his home office in his home should be considered an “insured work route.”

The case was taken to the regional social court who disagreed with the first ruling and determined that accidents like the one the man describes should be ineligible for worker’s compensation.

They noted that the act was an “uninsured preparatory act that only precedes the actual activity.”

The case was then taken to the next level, the federal social court, which agreed with the lower court ruling that the claim from the man should be compensable by the worker’s compensation insurance. The court ruled:

“If the insured activity is carried out in the household of the insured person or at another location, insurance cover is provided to the same extent as when the activity is carried out at the company premises.”

The court further ruled that any employee who is injured in their residence is due compensation provided they have a ‘permanent’ workstation.

They did note that these permanent workstations must be agreed upon in the employment contract or written agreement to be compensable.

As a result of the ruling, the court ordered the insurance company to reimburse him for his medical expenses and lack of pay while he was out of commission.

While this is the first major headline about this type of scenario, it is not new, not even in the United States. In Minnesota, a similar case was heard several years before the pandemic was ever considered.

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In 2008, an employee was injured walking down the stairs of his home to get a cup of coffee while teleworking. As he was descending the stairs, he slipped and fell, fracturing his T9 vertebrae to the extent that he required surgery to have it repaired.

The employer attempted to file worker’s compensation however it was denied by the insurance carrier.

The employer took the case to court and his attorney argued that it should be compensable underneath the Personal-Comfort doctrine which states that while working if an employee gets injured while taking breaks, the company is responsible for the claim.

This is providing that the employee was not involved in some type of risky behavior that caused the injury.

Since the court found, in this case, that the injured party was not taking place in any type of risky behavior and he was on the clock, the insurance company was required to pay for his medical expenses.

In the pandemic world that we all find ourselves being a part of, worker’s compensation claims like this are bound to rise, especially when word gets out that the courts are requiring the insurance company to pay benefits.

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Good Samaritan truck driver who ended police chase denied coverage by insurance company

POMONA, CA – A truck driver who helped put a stop to a police pursuit of a person of interest in a murder investigation back in April wound up having his semi damaged through the fast-acting intervention.

And now this driver who ostensibly did the right thing from a moral perspective is being denied coverage by his insurance for the damages to his semi.

 

On April 6th, Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies were pursuing a driver that was believed at the time to be a person of interest in an active murder investigation.

This driver wound up leading deputies to northern San Diego County, then back into the Inland Empire area, and eventually made it into the city of Pomona during the pursuit.

Truck driver Ahmed Shaaban happened to have been monitoring this pursuit while it was ongoing, and realized that the driver leading authorities on this pursuit was headed toward the intersection where he was in his big rig.

Without thinking that the suspect would actually crash into his semi, Shaaban pulled into the intersection to block the driver. However, the suspect wound up crashing right into the side of Shaaban’s truck.

In Shaaban’s perspective, he felt as though the driver leading that police pursuit needed to be stopped before they wound up hurting someone:

“I saw what happened and I took the decision to stop it, because if I didn’t, this person could have killed someone.”

Despite the damage done to his vehicle – which serves as his family’s source of income – Shaaban says he would do it all over again:

“Either way, I know I did the right thing. I don’t regret my decision.”

But this collision caused quite a bit of damage to the semi, to the tune of $22,000. When it came time to file an insurance claim, Shaaban said he was denied coverage from his insurer:

“I’m just kind of shocked from the reaction.”

Shaaban has been out of work due to the truck needing to be repaired before he can start running loads again, which has caused the bills to start piling up:

“It’s racking up on me really hard and really fast. I’m kind of stuck here.”

 

Adriatic Insurance Company, which is the insurer that denied the claim, noted that the reason for denying the claim was due to the damage not being “the result of an accident, but clearly deliberate action.”

Shaaban’s wife established a GoFundMe to help cover the repair costs, which notes the following about her husband:

“Our lives are on hold now due to this incident, but Ahmed regrets nothing. God put him in the right place at the right time to be able to do what others weren’t. He just didn’t want anyone to get hurt.  He truly is a hero like everyone is saying.”

As of May 21st, the GoFundMe has amassed over $90K.


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