Workers’ Compensation Series: Can a Telecommuter File for Workers’ Comp?
Did you know that more and more employees are working from home these days? According to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce, 3.9 million employees work from home at least half of the time, an increase from 2005. These telecommuters are not just freelancers or part-time workers – the average telecommuter is older, well-educated, and has a higher median salary than an in-office worker.
So let’s say your New York employer allows you to telecommute from your home in Newark. Your job consists of sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day. Although you take the precaution of using ergonomic wrist rest pads, you still develop carpal tunnel from the repetitive use. You try to file a workers’ compensation claim; however, the insurance company denies the claim because you work from home and not in an office. Is it possible to get workers’ comp as a telecommuter?
Workers’ Compensation and Telecommuting
The short answer is yes. As we stated in our previous blog, you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation if it arises out of and in the course of your employment. It doesn’t matter where the location occurs – in your office or at home. As long as the accident occurred while you are on the job, you are eligible for workers’ compensation.
But this does not mean you’re going to have an easy time claiming benefits. You’re going to need proof that your accident or injury occurred through the course of your employment, which can be difficult while at home. There are no witnesses to your accident, so it’s going to be just your word. So how can you prove the injury was the result of your telecommuting job?
Proving Injury at Your Telecommute Job
So how can you determine your injury was a result of your employment? You will need to show that your injury had “arisen out of” your employment. Using the scenario above, to prove that your job caused your carpal tunnel, you will need to show that repetitive motion of working on a computer was the direct cause. Medical records and testimony from your physician could help with your case.
However, if you slip and fell in your apartment’s kitchen during working hours, your workers’ compensation claim could be denied. It depends on whether your company has a policy in place for telecommuters. These policies could outline the guidelines for establishing a home office and define a designated work area. It can also determine the set number of hours you are required to work, including mean and rest breaks.
Injured While Working From Home? We Can Help!
As with any workers’ compensation claim, it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced attorney to learn what your legal options are. Your lawyer will explain what is needed to prove your claim, help you fill out the necessary paperwork and, if necessary, represent you if your case heads to the courtroom.
For 30 years, the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone has been helping victims of workplace accidents throughout New Jersey. We know the ins and outs of the state’s workers’ comp laws, and we can give you the information you need for a successful claim. Contact workers’ compensation attorney Anthony Carbone for a free consultation today.