Workers' Compensation Board Rules on Home Care Worker Cases

Posted on Nov 26, 2013

Oregon Workers' Compensation Board recently decided two cases involving home care workers. The issue in both cases was whether or not the injured worker suffered an injury that arose out of and in the course of their employment. In the first case, the Board held that the injuries sustained while taking a client and the client's dog to a veterinarian after a raccoon attack arose out of and was in the course and scope of employment. In the other case, the Board held that injuries sustained while helping a client who fell down when the injured worker had driven the client to church was also a compensable injury.

Generally, the issue in each case was whether or not the "task list" provided to hte home care workers was the beginning and the end of all activities considered within the scope of employment. The Board rejected the argument that anything occurring beyond the task list was outside the scope of employment, and explained that employment is more fluid then a regimented task list.

In one of the cases, the Board also rejected arguments that the worker should have sought preauthorization to transport a client, and that this constituted a violation of a workplace rule, which would render the activity causing the injury beyond the scope of employment. The Board found that the employer did not enforce this overly strict policy, and therefore the activity cannot be considered unauthorized.

Whether an injury arises out of and is in the course and scope of employment under the Oregon Workers' Compensation statute is a complex issue, and often fact intensive. Sometimes, significant benefits are at stake.

If you have an Oregon Workers' Compensation claim denial involving "course and scope," call us at 503-325-8600. We can review your claims file, and determine whether not you have a valid argument to set aside the claim denial. Under the Oregon Workers' Compensation statute, we are not entitled to a fee unless we are "instrumental" and getting your denial set aside.

Joe Di Bartolomeo
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