After the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, many American workers found themselves taking to working from home like a fish to water. While some chafed against the isolation, others found themselves embracing the lifestyle. Work from homers found themselves enjoying the lack of commutes, relaxed dress codes, fewer distractions, and a better work-life balance. Despite employers’ best efforts to return their workforces to the office, the work from home revolution seems destined to stick around in some form or another. As one of the DMV’s premier worker’s compensation law firms, we take pride in making sure workers are properly appraised of their rights in the event of an injury. Did you know worker’s compensation applies to working from home as well? Today we’ll be reviewing work from home worker’s comp as well as some worker’s comp basics.
So let’s begin with the basics. Worker’s compensation, or worker’s comp, provides medical benefits and compensates for lost wages on behalf of an injured employee. It is, in essence, a form of liability insurance. The program is meant to ensure the injured worker can recover from their injury and return to work with minimal stress on both the finances of the worker and the relationship between employer and employee. However, filing for worker’s comp also bars the worker from filing a suit alleging negligence on the part of their employer. Therefore it is our recommendation that injured workers seek a legal consultation. This will allow them to make an informed decision as it pertains to their particular case. In addition, given that worker’s comp is administered on a state-by-state basis, a worker’s comp attorney in your area will know the particular quirks of your state’s system.
Worker’s compensation still applies to those whose workplace is their home. But there are several asterisks that can be affixed to that statement. The first concerns your relationship to your employer. In order to be eligible for worker’s comp, you must be an employee. Independent contractors are not eligible. Many work from home jobs will offer employment on this basis, especially in connection with government projects and staffing firms. Workers should ensure that they are aware of which category they fall into before beginning any new job.
The second possible hurdle to securing worker’s compensation concerns the text of the law itself. Worker’s compensation stipulates that eligible injuries occur “arising out of” and “in the course of” one’s employment. The first statement is easy enough as it denotes a causal relationship. Muscle and tendon injuries caused by poor ergonomics and repetitive movements such as carpal tunnel and tendonitis are a perfect example of work from home injuries “arising out of” the work itself.
However, the stipulation that an injury occur “in the course of” one’s employment can be a gray area. This is especially true for those that work at home. Let’s propose a few for-instances to illustrate this. Let’s say you have a strenuous morning at work. You are sore, stressed, and tired while walking to your kitchen to prepare lunch. You slip and fall and are injured. Did this injury occur in the course of your employment? You might say yes, the circumstances leading to your injury were a direct result of your work. But your employer may disagree. You may have already clocked out for lunch, furthermore, making yourself lunch is likely not considered as a part of your duties. Most other scenarios you can imagine will run into similar snags.
You should expect your employer’s insurance company to deny your worker’s comp claim if you work from home. Though there are positive precedents for those seeking compensation. A Verizon employee received worker’s comp for a slip and fall injury she sustained when rushing down a flight of stairs to answer a work call. An interior designer claimed workers comp for tripping over her dog while carrying work materials in from her garage. As more and more people choose to work from home permanently, it stands to reason that more and more of these work from home worker’s comp cases will pop up in the coming years.
Whether you work from home, in the office, in the warehouse, or at a job site, contacting an experienced workers compensation lawyer is always a good move if you’ve been injured on the job. The attorneys at Malloy Law Offices will evaluate your case free of charge and advise you of the best course of action. Don’t wait to seek justice. Contact Malloy Law today.