I’ve Been Injured While Working from Home—Is Workers’ Compensation Available?
The definition of what constitutes a “workplace” is constantly evolving, as technology becomes increasingly supportive of remote workers. If you’ve begun telecommuting to your job, you’re certainly not alone. Telecommuting rose 103% between 2005 and 2015, and 6.5% in 2014 alone. Around 50% of the workforce in the US has a job where they could work remotely at least part of the time. Between 20-25% of US employees work remotely at least part of the time, and 3.7 million employees work from home half the time or more. Telecommuting can benefit not only employees who wish to have greater flexibility with their work schedule, but also employers. Some major corporations have saved tens of millions of dollars each year in energy and office space leasing costs by allowing large numbers of their work force to work remotely.
Injuries received in the workplace are often received by employees in higher-risk jobs—construction workers, commercial truck drivers, or other workers with highly physical jobs that put them at risk of injury. However, injuries in the workplace can happen to those with desk jobs, as well. Many of us who are required to work at a computer all day have experienced some degree of carpal tunnel syndrome. Office workers are also subject to receive injuries such as pulled back muscles from lifting boxes of files, or sprains or broken bones from tripping over items on an office floor. These sorts of injuries can happen as easily at home as they can at work, but the workers’ compensation board will look more carefully at the circumstances surrounding the injury when they occur at home.
So, you’ve received an injury while working from home. Can you recover workers’ compensation benefits for your injury? Well, it depends. As with an accident in a traditional office space, injuries are eligible for workers’ compensation only when the employee is injured in the course of performing work for pay or compensation, and only if the injury was related to a work task, not one related to your home life. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration gives the example of an employee who, while working from home, drops a work-related file on their foot, injuring it. This would be considered an injury received in the course of performing work for pay. However, if the employee trips over a child’s toy during the workday and receives an injury, this injury will not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Speak with an attorney as soon as possible after a work-related injury to ensure that you give yourself the best chances of success on a New York workers’ compensation benefits claim.
If you’ve been injured on the job in New York and need legal assistance to prepare your claim or appeal a denial, contact the knowledgeable Highland workers’ compensation and New York disability attorney Peter M. Cordovano for a consultation on your case, at 845-691-4200.