Being injured while working is never easy.
The process of getting workers’ compensation and making sure that you’re doing everything you can to recover mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially can result in a fair bit of stress, to say the least.
Things can get even more complicated if your injury occurred while you were working at home. Given the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, more people than ever are doing their work remotely.
The following will explore all the information you need to know regarding being injured at work while being employed from home. Of course, every injury and work situation is different, so the below information should be viewed as guidelines only.
For a detailed understanding of your particular situation and what options are available to you, be sure to reach out to a legal professional.
Workers’ Compensation Can Cover Work from Home
The big question is, of course, whether or not workers’ compensation covers injuries experienced while working from home.
Mainly because so many people are expected to continue working from home in the future, this question is of interest to employers and employees all over the world.
By definition, workers’ compensation deals with any injuries that occur out of or in the course of employment.
What this means is that workers’ compensation does indeed cover injuries experienced while working from home.
If your injury was related to work during designated working hours on assigned work, more than likely, you are a candidate for compensation.
It’s important to note that this applies to sudden injuries, like cuts or burns, and injuries that develop over a longer period of time, like carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive stress injuries.
The Process Is More Complicated
Of course, when injured while working from home, the evidence and data you need to provide are different than if you were injured in a workplace.
The burden of proof is often in your hands. You will need to be able to prove that the injury was related to the work you were doing.
It can sometimes be hard for many virtual employees to verify exactly what happened and why as there are not the same check-ins and clarity in home work environments.
There are also fewer eye-witnesses to corroborate incidents in-home working environments.
Some basic questions that might be asked throughout the process are:
- Was your employer benefiting from your actions when the injury took place?
- Did your employer require you to engage in the activity that caused the injury?
- Was your off-site activity approved by your employer in advance?
These questions are only a jumping-off point. Depending on the nature of your work and injury, you might be asked for more than just the above.
If I Was Injured While Working from Home, What Are My Options?
First and foremost, if you need medical attention—seek it out. Many injuries can cause greater damage and harm the longer they go untreated.
For most people, reaching out to an attorney that specializes in workers’ compensation is the next step. This ideally takes place before you file your workers’ compensation claim.
When looking for a lawyer to speak to, you want to ensure that the person you consider has experience with the particular type of law and legal proceedings you’ll be interacting with.
Look for someone who specializes in workers’ compensation or workplace injuries.
You’ll also want to make sure that whomever you choose to speak to practices law in the state where the injury occurred. This is because each state has its own rules and regulations as well as strict procedures in place.
Experts at https://gregorysmithlaw.com/ point out that even in instances where the written law is the same across states, there will be different precedents set in the past and different interpretations of the law.
Save Anything That Could Be Evidence
If you have work emails, phone call histories, or anything else that indicates the work you were doing was tasked to you, save this information.
You might want to take screenshots of any digital evidence as well as photographs of anything related to your injury or your space when the injury occurred.
Make sure to get both wide shots and close-ups. You’ll also want to save any medical records or receipts, or bills associated with your injury.
All of this information can be used by an attorney to help calculate the true cost of your injury as well as construct a claim that suits your particular situation.
What Does This Mean for Employers?
If you employ staff who are working at home, it is still your responsibility to make sure that their work is safe and healthy.
Ideally, you want to have clear job descriptions that include every aspect of your employees work from home. Anything that is not expressly part of their job and results in injury isn’t something you are responsible for.
This being said, anything that is part of their work needs to be treated as your duty. You can also outline normal working hours when you expect your employees to be accessible and working and “off” hours when any work is done is not sanctioned by you.
It’s also a good idea to have an outline written up of the equipment that your staff is required to use for their work within this description.
Many employers are also looking into providing training for their remote employees that includes proper workstation setup, safety measures, and precautions, as well as a discussion of ergonomics to reduce the risk of long-term injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive stress injuries.
For instance, if headphones are required, you might want to include a discussion of appropriate volumes to prevent the risk of any long-term damage done to the eardrums.
The above breakdown should give you enough information to understand how working from home interacts with workers’ compensation.
Of course, if you are seeking this information out regarding a particular incident, it’s always best to consult an attorney. Many lawyers offer free consultations to discuss your situation and present the options available to you.