Risk of work environment existed when decorator tripped over dog
Case name: Sandberg v. JC Penney Co. Inc., No. A140276 (Or. Ct. App. 06/01/11).
The Oregon Court of Appeals held that a decorator's injury arose out of her employment. The court sent the case back to determine whether it occurred in the course of her employment.
What it means: In Oregon, in order for an injury to arise out of employment, it must result from a risk connected with the nature of the work or the work environment.
Summary: A custom decorator worked one day a week from her employer's studio, and on other days she was out on appointments with clients or worked from home. She stored excess fabric samples in her home garage. She was walking to her garage to change the fabrics she kept in her van when she noticed her dog was underfoot. She shifted to her other foot, lost her balance, and fell. She sustained a right distal radius fracture. She sought compensation for her injury. The Oregon Court of Appeals held that the decorator's injury arose out of her employment. The court sent the case back to determine whether it occurred in the course of her employment.
The court noted that the risk involved was not "distinctly associated" with the decorator's employment. The risk did not result from the nature of her work because the risk of her tripping over her dog existed whenever she walked around her property.
The court said the decorator's home environment was also sometimes her work environment. When she worked at home, it was considered the employer's premises. She was walking to her garage to perform a work task. The court concluded that her injury resulted from a risk of her work environment.
The court said that although the employer may not have had control over the decorator's dog, it did have control over whether she worked away from the studio. The court explained that if an employer demands that a worker furnish the work premises, the risks of the premises encountered in connection with the performance of work are risks of the work environment even if they are outside the employer's control.
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July 21, 2011
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