Can Remote Workers Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Understand how to get compensated for remote work injuries
on August 26, 2022
Following the coronavirus pandemic, telecommuting and remote work have become the new normal for many employees.
Working from home can have many advantages, from eliminating lengthy commutes to greater work-life balance. However, working from home can involve many of the same challenges that working on-site at an office brings.
Unfortunately, work injuries can occur in a home office just as easily as in a work office.
If you’re a remote employee who has suffered an injury while working, you may be wondering if you can get compensated for your injuries. State laws on workers’ comp vary, however, the answer is generally yes.
Though it may be harder to prove a work-related injury happened at home, you can bring a workers’ comp claim. You can be compensated if you can show that your injuries occurred during the course and scope of employment.
This article will overview how workers’ comp works for remote employees. If you have suffered a work-related injury, it’s a good idea to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney about your specific case and options.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work if You Work Remotely?
Both federal and state laws require employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees. If an employee is injured or develops an illness while working, workers’ compensation laws allow the injured worker to get compensated.
Workers’ comp benefits cover medical bills and lost wages resulting from injuries. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system, meaning a claim doesn’t require showing that anyone was at fault. A worker just has to show:
- They were injured
- The injury occurred during work for their employer
When a worker is injured, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will investigate the incident and determine if the worker has a compensable workers’ comp claim.
State law sets the timeframe for this initial investigation, typically ranging from a couple of weeks to a month. Once the insurance company has assessed the claim, they will either approve or deny it. If a worker’s claim is denied, they can appeal the decision in most states.
When it comes to remote work injuries, the most common include
- Slip and falls
- Injuries resulting from poor ergonomics
Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney Alfred J. Carlson says workers’ comp for remote workers “varies from state to state.”
In Pennsylvania, “if you’re a remote worker, you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you were injured while in the scope and course of employment,” says Carlson.
“If you’re working from home and have to use a keyboard for eight or more hours a day to complete your work tasks, you could develop Carpal tunnel syndrome,” he says. “If you can prove that your repetitive keyboard and mouse use caused the Carpal tunnel syndrome while in the scope and course of your employment, you would be eligible for workers’ compensation even though you were injured at home.”
Another example is talking on the phone “using a hands-free device such as AirPods or a headset,” says Carlson. “You could trip over something in your home, but at the time that you had the incident, you were working. That would be just like tripping over something at work, and you would be eligible for workers’ comp.”
Since state laws vary, it’s a good idea to speak with a workers’ comp lawyer in your area about your claim.
What Should You Do if Injured While Working From Home?
If you were injured while working remotely, you should report the incident to your employer as soon as possible so that workers’ comp insurance can get involved.
The insurance company will likely need to speak with you and obtain medical records or other documentation when assessing your claim. It’s important to comply with the insurance company to help ensure the process goes smoothly.
The process of filing a workers’ compensation claim can be complicated. Especially since remote work injuries can be more difficult to prove, it’s often best to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure the best settlement in your case.
Many workers’ comp attorneys provide free consultations to learn about your case. These consultations allow you to get helpful legal advice and decide if the attorney or law firm meets your needs.
Not only are the initial consultations free, but most workers’ comp lawyers are paid on a contingency fee basis, meaning there are no upfront costs to retaining legal representation.
Questions for a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
To get the most out of a consultation, ask informed questions such as:
- Do you charge your attorneys’ fees on a contingency basis?
- What expenses will workers’ compensation cover?
- How do I file a workers’ comp claim?
- How long do I have to file a claim?
- How long do I have to appeal a denial?
- How like is a settlement in my case?
Look for a workers’ compensation attorney in the Super Lawyers directory to help with workers’ comp issues.