Many people have been working from home to help slow the spread of coronavirus and try to avoid contracting this potentially deadly disease. With this increase in remote work, there could be an increase in at-home injuries while people are on the clock.
This raises important questions about workers’ compensation. It may be harder to connect an at-home injury to your work and your employer may be more likely to challenge your claim because you were not in the office. It also less likely there were witnesses to your injury.
If you have been working remotely because of the pandemic and you were injured during work hours, our experienced attorneys may be able to help you pursue workers’ compensation benefits. The initial consultation comes with no obligation and it is entirely free.
Workers’ Comp When Working at Home
Virginia’s workers’ compensation system provides compensation for medical bills and lost wages for employees who suffer work-related injuries. Generally, that means if you are an employee who is on the clock and you get injured while doing your work, you are eligible for benefits.
The burden of proof for your claim is on you. That means it is up to you and your Richmond workers’ compensation attorney to prove you were engaged in work-related activities when the injury occurred.
This could be more challenging for an injury that occurs during offsite activities or remote work. Even if there are witnesses, they are likely to be friends or family members – your employer and its workers’ comp insurer may claim they are biased in your favor. Most people do not have security cameras in their homes, so it is unlikely you will have video footage of the accident.
What if I was Injured While Away from My Desk?
At-home injuries might not occur while you are in your home office or designated workspace. You may slip and fall on the way to the kitchen for a snack or on the way to the bathroom.
This raises questions about your eligibility for benefits – walking to the kitchen is not really a work-related task. However, if you were in the office and you were injured while on your lunch break in the company breakroom, you are likely eligible for benefits. The same rationale likely applies to injuries that occur during remote work.
However, employers often set guidelines or rules about working from home. For example, they may require you to have a designated workspace and prohibit you from working in a location that may be distracting, such as in front of the TV or on your couch. They may also prohibit you from doing household chores. If you violated these guidelines and your employer or its insurer can prove it, you may be ineligible for benefits.
Your employer may have also set some safety requirements for at-home work to help reduce the risk of injury. For example, you may be required to have an ergonomic workspace to reduce the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome or neck and back injuries.
A key factor to consider is how clearly-stated your employer’s work-at-home guidelines are. If they were only mentioned in passing and not written down in a company handbook or email, they may not be enforceable.
Preserving Your Workers’ Comp Claim
As with any other workers’ compensation claim, it is important to file a claim as soon as possible. You should also notify your employer about your injury immediately. Reporting things quickly helps to show the severity of the situation and leaves your employer and its insurer less room to dispute the validity of your claim.
You should also take pictures of your injuries and the location of the accident. If friends or family members witnessed the accident, have them write down what they remember. You should also write down what happened before you forget.
Learn more about preserving a workers’ compensation claim by reviewing our blog.
Find Out How We May be Able to Help You Pursue Benefits
Our experienced legal team knows you may have questions about filing a workers’ compensation claim. We have helped many employees obtain benefits after a workplace injury and we are very familiar with what work injury victims want to know.
We are available to answer your questions in a free legal consultation at no obligation to you. Our firm does not charge upfront fees for representing you and we are not paid unless you receive compensation.
Review some of our client testimonials to see what our clients have to say about the representation we provided in their time of need.