German court declares home fall a workplace accident for insurance claim

A German court has ruled that a man who fell down his house stairs while walking from his bed to his home office suffered a workplace accident and was technically commuting. This means he can now file a claim against his employer’s insurance for the accident, in which he broke his back.

The unnamed man was working from home and was on his way from the bedroom to his office, situated one floor below, information released by the federal social court stated. The court oversees social security issues and was the group behind the ultimate decision.

The accident happened as the worker was headed down his spiral staircase, upon which slipped and received the back injury. At first, the employer’s insurance refused to cover the claim, and two different lower-level courts refused to confirm that the short trip was the man’s commute. This was overturned by the higher federal social court which said it had found that “the first morning journey from bed to the home office [was] an insured work route”.

It ruled: “The plaintiff suffered an accident at work when he fell on the way to his home office in the morning.”

The German federal court said: “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.”

It is not clear if the man was a permanent at-home worker, or if he was only doing so due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ruling said the workplace accident law applied to “teleworking positions”, which are “computer workstations that are permanently set up by the employer in the private area of ​​the employees”.

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Written by

Claire Gordon