Working from home has become commonplace for more people today than ever before due to the COVID-19 virus. Did you know, however, that working from home makes you more likely than ever to suffer a work-related injury? After all, many people suffer injuries at home.
Let’s say, for example, that you get injured while working from home. Are you eligible for workers’ compensation coverage working from home? Perhaps you were getting a fresh cup of coffee or going to the restroom when you got injured. These periods of time could be considered official breaks. The “personal comfort doctrine” may entitle employees to personal comfort breaks during the workday, meaning injuries that occurred during these time periods may make you eligible for workers’ compensation.
Under the personal comfort doctrine, employees qualify for worker’s compensation benefits if they are injured on the job, whether that is during actual working hours or in the midst of a personal or restroom break. Depending on the court in which a case is settled, some cases interpret the doctrine to extend worker’s compensation benefits to cover work in the home environment.
Determining whether home injuries are covered by worker’s compensation can be rather unclear. There are specific circumstances as to whether worker’s compensation will apply. As an example, one might qualify for workers’ comp if they trip over a computer cord being used for their work computer, but not if they fall and break their ankle while playing basketball in their driveway. Even though both injuries occurred at home, one was work-related and the other was very clearly not.
Courts will analyze whether or not the injury occurred while the individual was doing something related to their job. They’ll take into consideration all elements that are deemed necessary to optimal job performance and make an evaluation accordingly.
A work-from-home environment is ideally as safe as the actual workplace. In order to stay safe while working from home, keep your work area free of pet toys, children’s toys, loose cords, and other objects that could hinder your work performance or safety. Set up your computer and chair to be at an appropriate height to foster productivity and comfort.
Should you become injured at home while working out of your house, be sure to document the incident in as much detail as possible. This is especially crucial if there were no witnesses. Be sure to document hospital visits, doctor visits, prescriptions, and any other medical activities related to the incident, etc.
In addition to immediately reporting the injury to your employer, it’s also a good idea to contact an attorney for an initial consultation.
With more people working from home and essential workers contracting the coronavirus, the picture of workers’ compensation may be changing. Time will tell whether new precedents will be set as decisions are made regarding these types of workers’ comp cases. While we can’t predict the future, you can rest assured that Cardinal Law Partners will stay on top of all new standards and legislation. If you’ve been hurt while working at home, contact us to discuss your rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
As always, your first consultation with Cardinal Law Partners is free. Don’t hesitate to speak to a professional, today.