If your company is one of the thousands of businesses gravely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, then you might have been working in your pajamas for several months now. With stay-at-home orders still enforced in many countries, remote working has undeniably become the new normal for many employees. But while our times have raised a sea of novel questions, compensation coverage is not one of them.
Admit it or not, you love working from home. You are not only happier to be spending more time with your family and not getting stuck in traffic every day, but you also get to have a respite from office politics and the seemingly endless chitchats in the office pantry or around the photocopier. But what if you get injured while working from home? Will your workers’ compensation insurance still cover your injury?
With this article from one of the best compensation lawyers out there, Turner Freeman Lawyers, you will discover if you are entitled to workers compensation if you get injured while working from home.
Does workers compensation cover employees working from home?
Let’s begin answering this by saying that worker’s compensation is a no-fault system. That means you are covered by your workers’ compensation insurance as long as you are “in the course and scope” of your employment, regardless of whether your injury was a result of your own negligence or not. The concept of how workers compensation is affected by remote work life may sound novel to you, but it’s not really something new.
The question here is not really whether your own negligence played a role in your accident or not, or whether it occurred inside your office or in your home, but whether your injury was work-related. That means if you got an injury while working from home, your burden is to prove whether your injury actually happened while you were reporting for work.
What’s complicated about this is that it’s difficult to prove that your injury was a result of your occupation. Because really, how can you prove that your injury was a result of work, when you are working remotely? Theoretically, since you are working from home, your injury could have occurred at any time of the day—even when you’re not working.
When is an injury considered work-related?
So how do you consider an injury work-related? Like we said, you are only compensable under the workers’ compensation law if your injury arises out of and in the course of your employment, and it does not really matter where your injury occurred.
To help you determine whether your injury is work-related or not, ask yourself the following questions:
- Was your employer benefitting from your actions when you got your injury?
- Were you required by your employer to engage in the activity that had caused your injury?
- · Was your employer informed about your work from home setup and agreed to it?
Take this as an example: You’re having lunch with your colleagues at your office pantry when you suddenly tripped and broke your knee. In that case, the workers’ compensation will cover your injury because taking your lunch break on-site benefits your employer. How? Well, aside from it saves time, it also keeps you accessible to your team in case they will need you while you are taking your break. Even if you got injured after clocking out, as long as you’re still on the premises of your employer, you are still most likely to be covered by your company insurance policy.
The same analysis also translates to working remotely. If you went to the bathroom while working from home in the middle of the night and accidentally stubbed your toe on the way there, you are most likely out of luck. However, you might at least get the benefit of the doubt if you can reasonably explain and prove that your injury is work-related.
What coverage will you get if you prove that you were injured on the job?
When it comes to workers’ compensation disputes, it is normal for courts to err on the side of covering the injuries of the employee. Once you have proven that your injury is work-related, the next thing you can expect to happen is for your employer to discuss with you your coverage. Compensation for workers who get injured while working remotely comes in many forms, but some approaches to coverage are usually far more common than the others.
A broad interpretation of coverage does not only serve the best interests of both you and your employer, but it also gives you the assurance that your employer will cover all your medical expenses and that he will pay your income during your recovery—in the same way that it will help your employer avoid a lawsuit. Most importantly, this expansive approach to coverage keeps courts from being overburdened with work-related injury cases!
Obviously, it is harder to establish that your employer was benefitting from the activity you were engaging in when you were injured while working from home since it requires a more fact-intensive inquiry. Given how the pandemic has made working remotely as part of the new normal, however, chances are you will face less scrutiny if ever you get into this situation. Well, if your employer really wants to keep his business running, his only option is to allow you and his other employees to work from home as efficiently as possible by providing you with basic protections.
How do you get started with your claim?
As you know, laws vary from place to place so there is no single rule when it comes to claiming workers’ compensation benefits. If you sustained an injury while working from home, your first course of action would have to be filing your workers’ compensation insurance forms as soon as possible. It is also best to secure as many pieces of evidence as possible, which might help establish the fact that you sustained your injury while working from home. Preserving such evidence will prepare you for answers police might ask to determine if your injury was work-related or not. Otherwise, talk to an experienced attorney to know which course of action you should take.