Even before the Covid-19 pandemic forced many companies to consider remote working conditions for non-essential workers, there was already a huge portion of the American workforce that was working from home with one study estimating that up to 43% of Americans worked from home occasionally in 2019. However, while working from home certainly has its advantages, there are some things that workers need to consider when working from home and whether or not they will be covered by workers’ compensation should they be injured while working from home is one such consideration.
Can Workers Claim for Workplace Compensation While Working from Home?
Workers’ compensation is a source of financial relief for employees who sustain injuries at work or who suffer from disabilities as a result of a work-related injury. And, while the laws are fairly straightforward when it comes to injuries sustained at a workplace, there is some nuance to cases where workers are injured on duty while working from their home. For this reason, people should always seek the advice of experienced attorneys when seeking damages in a working-from-home related case. As a workers’ compensation attorney, Orlando-based attorney Charles H. Leo has found success in thousands of personal injury cases and would thus have the experience in all manner of cases, including workplace injuries sustained outside a traditional office environment.
What Kinds of Injuries Can Be Claimed For?
Generally speaking, workers’ compensation covers claims for any employee illnesses or injuries that can be shown to have arisen out of, and in the scope of, a worker’s employment regardless of where the injury occurred. Common workplace injuries that can be claimed for even by remote workers include falls and other traumatic injuries, repetitive motion injuries, and injuries related to psychological and emotional trauma such as stress-related disorders.
Cases that Have Ruled in the Favor of Remote Workers
Some examples of cases where judges ruled in favor of remote workers in workers’ compensation cases include Verizon Pennsylvania v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Alston). In this case, a remote working employee fell down the stairs while on the way to her home office, sustaining injuries to her neck. The claimant was found to have been injured in the course and scope of her employment as her home office was officially approved as a secondary work premise.
In another case, Sandberg v. JC Penney, an employee received workers’ compensation after claiming for an injury she sustained after tripping over her dog while working from home. The employee, who was a designer, was working from her home study and was retrieving materials from her garage to complete a work assignment when she tripped over her dog and sustained an injury. This employee was initially denied her claim as the courts found that her injury did not arise from her employment, however, her claim was reconsidered upon an appeal due to some of the finer details of the case. Because the employee was required to work from home, i.e. she did not elect to work from home, her home and garage both constituted her work environment so the courts ruled in her favor because she was where she was only at home when the injury happened because she was required to be there due to her job.
Personal injury law can be a complicated minefield to navigate, which is why workers should always consult with an attorney with experience in this field before they make any decisions relating to an injury sustained either at work or while working from home.