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Salesperson tripped, injured by own dog owed workers comp: Oregon court

Posted On: Jun. 3, 2011 12:00 AM CST

SALEM, Ore.—The injury a J. C. Penney & Co. salesperson suffered when she tripped over her dog while working at home arose from her employment, Oregon’s Court of Appeals has ruled.

The workers compensation claimant in Mary S. Sandberg vs. J. C. Penney Co. Inc. was a custom decorator selling window treatments and bedding. She spent much of her workweek traveling to appointments, meeting customers at their homes or working from her home.

Employer required home office

Court records show that she was required to have an office in her car, where she kept fabric samples and pricing guides. Her employer also instructed her to store excess products at her home or find another place for them.

Consequently, she stored samples in her garage and was walking from the back door of her home to her garage to replace fabrics in her van when she tripped over the dog, fracturing her right wrist.

A Oregon’s Workers’ Compensation Board determined that Ms. Sandberg’s injury did not arise from her employment and denied her benefits.

However, the state appellate court disagreed in its ruling.

It said Ms. Sandberg worked from home as a condition of her employment, which benefited her employer. Therefore, her home and garage constitute her work environment and the injury arose from her employment.

“If (the) claimant tripped over a dog and injured herself while meeting with a customer in the customer’s home, her injury would arise out of her employment,” the appellate court ruled. “The same is true here because claimant was where she was, doing what she was, because of the requirements of her employment.”

The appeals court reversed the board and remanded the case for reconsideration.