As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are often asked, “If I am injured while I am working from home, can I file for Workers’ Compensation benefits?”
The simple answer is “it depends.” Whether you will be able to get compensation from your employer, or whether you will need to rely on your own health insurance depends on the factors below.
How Do You Know Whether You Were Injured on the job?
Workers’ Compensation is granted when an employee is injured in the course of their duties or at their workplace. Since many people are working from home these days, the lines are blurred. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation usually errs on the side of granting benefits, since it is a win-win situation for everyone. Employees get their wages and medical costs covered, while employers and courts avoid negligence lawsuits.
In the COVID-19 work-from-home era, defining a “work injury” is more complicated. It is much harder to determine whether that injury would have occurred in the scope of your duties, or if you could have suffered the same fate while off duty.
Here’s how to tell whether you may have a claim.
- Did your employer require you to perform the activity that caused the injury? For example, if you drop a cup of coffee on your foot in your own kitchen and suffer severe burns, you probably will not have a case. However, if the same injury had occurred in your workplace, you might. Your physical presence on work premises benefits your employer.
- Did they approve of the activity in advance? If the specific activity you were performing isn’t in the normal scope of your duties, or if you normally would not do it at home, then knowing whether the employer approved can indicate whether it is “work-related.”
- Did the activity actively benefit your employer? This question does not arise as often when you are on the employer’s premises, since your presence is beneficial to them. You are considered available to help, even when you are on break. At home, that line is blurred. Is getting coffee “actively benefitting your employer?” Probably not. However, if you get repetitive stress injuries from typing work documents, then you would be able to make a stronger argument that you were injured in the course of your work duties.
Ultimately, Workers’ Compensation depends on the specific facts of the case. Working with an experienced attorney can help ensure that you get the medical and wage compensation you need. Call Nager, Romaine, & Schneiberg Co. L.P.A. to schedule a free case evaluation today.