Remote workers can receive workers’ compensation benefits. Since remote workers are still employees, they enjoy the same rights as those who work in stores, offices, and other ventures.
Yet, the new and uncharted territory of large-scale remote work can pose many challenges in a workers’ compensation claim. Knowing what rules, laws, and rights apply to the at-home workspace is crucial for employees to do their jobs effectively and understand their rights.
If you telecommute, read on to find out how workers’ compensation applies to remote workers in case you are ever injured on the job while at home or anywhere else. A lawyer who focuses on workers’ compensation cases can explain more.
What Benefits Are Remote Employees Entitled To?
The specific types of benefits you can receive as an injured worker largely depend on where you live. For instance, if you suffered injuries while working remotely in California, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) notes you can seek:
- Medical treatment
- Two-thirds of your usual weekly wage
- Disability benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Death benefits for surviving family members
Some injured workers file personal injury claims in addition to their workers’ compensation claims. That avenue can offer coverage for various non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Workers’ Compensation and Remote Employees: What to Know
First, it’s important to understand that if you are a remote employee, you still have the same rights as those who work in-office. Workers’ compensation insurance covers any employee who suffered a job-related injury regardless of fault. A work-related injury is any injury that “arises out of and in the course of employment.” So, as long as you were injured while performing your job-related duties, you can seek benefits.
Work Injuries Can Happen Anywhere
Notice that the definition of a “suffered an on-the-job injury,” does not include a location. A workplace injury can happen anywhere. You could suffer an injury (like carpal tunnel) while typing. You could trip and fall while on a video call. Both of these scenarios could make you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
What if I’m Injured While Working from Home?
Many employees know they can seek workers’ compensation if they suffered injuries at work. But when the environment shifts from public to private, the question of workers’ compensation gets fuzzy. Is your employer liable for injuries you suffer at home?
Your home is an environment they can’t control. On top of that, it’s an environment where you perform an immeasurable number of tasks unrelated to work. Still, the courts have found that even when working from home, location and control are irrelevant to workers’ compensation benefits.
As a remote worker, you can seek workers’ compensation benefits if:
- You suffered an injury.
- You suffered an injury while performing your job-related tasks.
How Remote Workers Can Determine if They Qualify for Workers’ Compensation
When evaluating your workers’ compensation claim as a remote employee, the insurer will ask:
Did Your Injury Arise Out of Your Employment?
The words “arise out of” simply mean that your injury occurred because of your job. There must be a causal connection that links the employment to the injury. In other words, some facets of employment contributed to the injury. This may be the nature, conditions, obligations, or incidents related to the job.
For instance, if you were removing a paper jam that occurred while you were printing a work-related document, and the printer fell on your foot, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits. Performing the tasks of your job led to the printer falling and causing your injury.
If you were working but stopped to fix a crooked shelf in your office, causing the shelf to fall on your foot, you cannot seek workers’ compensation benefits. In this scenario, the crooked shelf was immaterial to your job. You weren’t required to use it or do anything with it when working. In fact, if you had not disturbed it, it wouldn’t have fallen.
Did Your Injury Occur in the Course of Your Employment?
When considering whether the injury occurred in the course of employment, it’s necessary to assess when the accident occurred. It must have happened in the time, place, or circumstances of your employment. When your injury happened, were you performing a job-related task, or were you doing something normally performed off the clock? The answer could determine whether you can seek workers’ compensation benefits as a remote worker.
Why Would Another Party Contest My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Many employees, both in-house and remote, can generally recover workers’ compensation benefits with no problems. However, that’s not the case for everyone––especially some remote workers. Once learning about your intention to file a claim, the other party may assert:
- You were injured while performing job-related tasks.
- You weren’t injured at all.
- Intoxication or “horseplay” resulted in your accident and injuries.
The other party may even assert that you missed the filing deadline, even if you acted promptly. If you’re concerned about the outcome of your workers’ compensation claim, it could be in your best interest to consult with a lawyer. They can review your situation and explain what rights you have under the state’s workers’ compensation laws.
Remote Employees Can Turn to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
When it comes to working from home, there are many gray areas that could potentially disqualify you from recovering benefits. Your employer may split hairs about your home environment, and without a workers’ compensation attorney, you could face problems getting what you need.
If you were injured as a remote employee and want to seek workers’ compensation benefits, call KJT Law Group for a free consultation. Dial (818) 507-8525. We can answer your questions, explain your rights, and put your anxieties to rest.