The majority of workers’ compensation claims are filed by employees injured on a job site, whether it’s a work area or an office so What Are Valid Workers’ Compensation Claims for Parents Working from Home?
Although workers are sometimes injured off-site – like in a car accident or in another place of business – claims for those injuries are filed less frequently.
Despite being less frequent, most off-site injuries are covered by workers’ compensation, which includes injuries sustained by remote employees in their own homes.
However, it’s not always clear what types of injuries are covered for home-based employees.
Workers’ compensation covers injuries sustained while performing work
First and foremost, workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance program that compensates all covered employees for injuries sustained while performing work-related duties.
As a general rule, if an employee is performing work when they’re injured, they’re most likely covered, even if they aren’t clocked in.
Being injured on the job is what determines eligibility, even if that work is unapproved by the employer.
For example, say an employee works at a coffee shop, sees a long line, jumps behind the counter to help, and gets injured.
Even if their employer didn’t authorize the work, that employee would still be covered.
This is why many employers set strict policies about working off the clock, working unapproved overtime, and working on their days off “just to help out.”
What Are Valid Workers’ Compensation Claims for Parents Working from Home?
In general, covered injuries are the same for everyone, but unlike a lawsuit, compensation excludes pain and suffering. Covered injuries include:
- Sprains and strains
- Eye injuries
- Bone fractures
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Cumulative trauma, like carpal tunnel
- Musculoskeletal injuries, including back pain and sometimes sciatica
Certain work-related illnesses are also covered like lung diseases that develop over time because of long-term exposure to hazardous materials or chemicals.
The largest amount of workers’ comp claims arises from injuries sustained while handling materials (32%) and from slips, trips, and falls (16%).
However, these hazards aren’t always applicable to remote workers.
Remote workers have introduced a new class of workplace hazards that usually arise from poor working habits and bad work setups (like working hunched over on the couch).
It may not seem like a big deal, but even minor injuries can adversely impact a business by limiting employee productivity.
Workers’ compensation claims for remote workers are limited
When working from home, the rules for workers’ compensation are a little trickier.
There are far more variables and unique circumstances that arise in a person’s home than at a workplace and not all of those circumstances are covered.
For example, if an employee wanders through their backyard on a paid 10-minute break and trips over a sprinkler head, do they qualify for compensation?
What if an employee is working at their desk during a storm and a tree crashes into their house and smashes their leg?
An employee working in an office facing the above circumstances would likely qualify for compensation.
If an employee wanders around their employer’s property and trips over a sprinkler head, their claim would likely be approved.
Likewise, if an employee was sitting at their desk in the office and a tree fell through the wall and crushed their leg, their claim would likely be approved.
A worker’s home environment is not the employer’s responsibility
Although the two scenarios above are the same regardless of location, there is a difference between an employer’s building and a worker’s home.
Employers are responsible for the conditions of their entire building, whether it’s a warehouse, a store, or an office.
However, employers are not responsible for the conditions of a person’s home other than their designated work area.
Courts regularly rule against remote employees who have injured themselves while performing non-work-related tasks.
For example, several years back, a remote worker tripped over her dog while making a cup of coffee and injured her hip, shoulder, and knee.
Since she was technically on the clock, she filed a workers’ compensation claim.
At first, a lower court ruled in favor of the injured worker.
However, her employer appealed and won because her accident had no “occupational causation.” Making a cup of coffee was not part of her work duties.
Had she tripped over a dog in the office while making coffee, she probably would have been covered because it would have been the employer’s responsibility to maintain a safe, obstacle-free office.
That level of employer responsibility does not extend to a remote worker’s home kitchen.
Injured workers should always file a claim
If you’ve been injured while working from home, file a workers’ comp claim regardless of whether you think your claim will be approved.
Don’t risk lost wages and having to pay out of pocket for your medical bills. While not everyone is approved, it’s always worth pursuing.