Posted On: May 7, 2010 by Steven J. Malman

How Much Workers’ Compensation Protection Should Work-From-Home Employees Receive?

A traveling saleswoman who was injured in a 2003 car crash while driving from a business appointment to her office has taken her workers’ compensation case to the state Supreme Court. Liana Leordeanu is seeking work injury benefits for the massive head trauma she sustained that caused her to fall into a coma for three months and undergo 26 extensive surgeries to repair her skull and her face. In addition to shattering her skull, the 35-year-old also lost her left eye. She will have to spend the majority of the next two years in hospitals while she undergoes more surgeries to fix facial bones, remold her head, and reconstruct her sinuses. Leordeanu now finds it hard to remember names.

Following her catastrophic car accident—Leordeanu lost control of her vehicle and drove into a rock embankment—she filed a workers’ compensation that her employer’s insurer denied. The reason, according to American Protection Insurance Co., is that even though Leordeanu was traveling on business when the traffic crash happened and was headed to her office, the place of work she was headed to was also her home, which made going there for the night “personal” and not just “professional.”

American Protection Insurance Co. said that Leordeanu was disqualified from coverage because workers’ compensation doesn’t usually cover commutes to and from work and the state limits the availability of workers’ compensation for drivers on trips that combine personal reasons with the professional ones.

Leordeanu appealed to the state’s Department of Insurance and lost. She lost. A jury then decided Leordeanu had been working when the motor vehicle collision happened. However, in 2009, an Austin court ruled that because Leordeanu was going back to her office that also was her home, the personal aspect of her trip made her ineligible for insurance coverage under workers’ compensation. Leordeanu appealed the decision and her workers’ compensation case, which is now up for consideration by the Texas Supreme Court.

Leordeanu’s attorneys have pointed out that it didn’t make sense that she would have been eligible for work injury coverage if only her place of work was an actual office building and not her residence too. The outcome of this case will determine how much insurance protection employees who travel and work-from-home can rely on.

Workers' comp claim denied because of home office, Statesman, May 1, 2010

Read the eBrief before the Supreme Court of Texas (PDF)

Related Web Resource:
Workers' Compensation, Nolo

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