Many people in the workforce are telecommuting for the first time because of the Covid-19 outbreak and physical distancing policies, including California’s Safer at Home. This temporary new normal will mostly affect people whose work duties are considered relatively safe, including computer work and making phone calls. And yet, it’s widely known that most accidents happen at home. How does this fact apply when working from home? Are people who are injured while working from home able to file a workers’ compensation claim?
The answer is yes, in most circumstances. Workers who are working remotely are typically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, but these claims may face additional scrutiny. Every workers’ compensation claim is unique, so it’s impossible to predict whether or not a specific injury will be accepted or denied, but there are certain circumstances that could result in a denied claim.
The injury occurred outside of typical work hours
If a workplace usually works from 9 to 5, telecommuters are likely working the same hours. Though a worker may have been sitting at a computer for eight hours, it’s not unexpected that the worker may continue to use the computer outside of work hours. There is a better chance of a workers’ compensation claim being accepted if your home office chair collapses during work hours than it would if it collapses outside of work hours. However, if an employer does not specify when work from home hours are, it’s possible that an employee injured working at 5 a.m. would be eligible. The injured worker, however, may have to prove that he or she was working when the injury happened.
The injury occurred outside of a designated working location
In addition to setting specific hours for at home workers, employers can also limit physical working locations. If an injury happens at home that is outside of the scope of a designated work location, the injury may not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The exact circumstances of the injury will play a large part in determining it is eligible.
The injury was caused by something not typically associated with work
Workers’ compensation claims may take into consideration “frolics and detours,” the legal terms for deviating from work duties. Detours are minor deviations from work duty and frolics are major deviations. When working at home, feeding a pet could be considered a detour but taking the same pet on a walk could be considered a frolic. If you slip and fall feeding your pet, you may be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, but if you’re walking your pet you likely won’t have a chance to receive benefits.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Law Firm
If you’ve been injured while working from home, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth provides free consultations to help potential clients determine the best course of action regarding a work injury, even if you were working at home when the injury occurred. Call us today at 888-517-9888 to speak to a workers’ comp expert today!