Many of us are now working from home and it’s important to know your rights and what benefits are available to you in the event you are injured while working from home. Keep in mind that workers compensation is a no-fault system of insurance, and this means if your injured while performing work activities or sometimes even if you’re not performing work activities, you are usually covered under the workers compensation insurance policy that your employer has purchased for you.
And this policy, as a no-fault policy, will cover you regardless of whether there was negligence or not. Generally, negligence or fault is not an issue in a work injury case. While the increase in work from home assignments has brought this question to light, workers’ compensation coverage for home office or off-site injuries is nothing new.
Generally, employees are covered for injuries that occur during working hours so long as the employee is engaged in an activity that is work-related and benefits the employer. Bathroom breaks would be included in this definition, making a slip and fall in the bathroom covered by workers compensation in most situations.
The important question to ask is whether the injury is actually “work-related”. Proving that your work or job has caused an injury does become more complicated when working remotely, especially in situations where the injury could have occurred while you’re at home even when you were not working.
Important questions to ask that help determine if your injury while working at home or remotely is work related are:
- Was your employer benefiting from your actions when the injury occurred?
- Did your employer require you to engage in the injury-causing activity?
- Did your employer approve the home or off-site activity in advance?
As an example, what if you slip and fall in the office breakroom while eating lunch? Workers’ compensation will usually cover those injuries because it benefits your employer when you take your lunch break at the office since it saves time and keeps you accessible if a need arises. Even if you are leaving the employer premises after work and fall in the parking lot, you would typically still be covered.
This analysis also works for work from home assignments or remote work locations. So long as you can give a reasonable explanation how an injury is work related, its likely you will be able to obtain benefits.
The workers compensation law does favor covering work injuries over denying the benefits. However, the same is not true for workers compensation insurance companies. They are under pressure to delay and deny benefits when ever there is the slightest reason to do so. Off-site work assignment injuries are one of those situations that workers compensation insurance companies will most likely delay and then deny benefits.