If you work from home, you may still be eligible to receive worker’s compensation for an on-the-job injury. Such injuries are often the same as those suffered by any office worker, as most work-from-home jobs are office jobs.
Here are some ways you could be hurt when working from home.
In an office job, people are sometimes bustling from place to place, and they don’t always do a great job of being aware of their surroundings. They might slip on a puddle or an object in the aisles, hitting the ground hard.
If you are working from home, you could encounter these same hazards. Perhaps you trip on your child’s misplaced toy, or there is extra water around the dog bowl, causing you to slip. Even though these are hazards in your house, they could still count toward workers’ comp if you were on the clock.
Office workers are sometimes asked to lift or move heavy objects like boxes of printing paper. These workers are not necessarily trained for this work like a warehouse employee. Also, they haven’t been physically conditioned to do this work regularly. They could easily pull a muscle or develop a hernia from this strain.
The same is true for working from home. You are often expected to put together your own office. If your company provides office equipment, it usually arrives in boxes, and it’s your responsibility to assemble everything. You could easily sustain lifting injuries from assembling and moving your office around, which counts as an office injury in a workers’ compensation claim.
Just like falling, bustling from place to place can result in impact injuries. Office workers can run into one another, or they can collide with furniture or open file drawers.
If you’re hurriedly running to answer a work call or email from home, the same dangers exist. You could easily slam into a stationary object, causing a severe injury. Regardless of your environment, such impact injuries are justification for a worker’s comp claim.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
Most occupations come with physical motions that you must repeat again and again. Orderlies, for instance, do much of the same bending and lifting throughout the day.
Repeated motions can result in musculoskeletal problems called repetitive motion injuries. Essentially, the parts of your body involved in these repeated motions begin to wear down over time.
Office workers people who work from home have almost the opposite problem. Their jobs require them to stay stationary most of the day, looking at computer screens. Sedentary posti8ons can result in repetitive motion injuries, even though they don’t’ involve movement. People who work from home can suffer back and spine problems, as staying seated can compress parts of the spine.
Many people who use computers could eventually suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. The repetitive typing motions can cause pain, numbness, or tingling in the hands, wrists, and forearms.
If your job leads to long-term, delayed damage such as a musculoskeletal disorder, you may file for workers’ comp.
Collecting Workers’ Comp for At-Home Jobs
At the best of times, collecting workers’ compensation can be a hassle. The process should be smooth and easy, but insurance companies often look for any excuse to deny benefits. When your injury is the result of a work-from-home job, it can be much easier for these bad-faith actors to deny your benefits.
Here are some tips for collecting workers’ comp from a work-from-home job.
Show That the Injury Was Work-Related
First off, you need evidence that the injury was job-related and sustained in the execution of your duties. If your work desk fell on you, for instance, you can draw a direct connection between your job and your injury.
Jobs covered by workers’ comp generally adhere to the doctrine of personal comfort. Workers can receive compensation even when they aren’t directly engaged in working. For instance, if they are hurt on the way to the bathroom or while inside the break room, they can still qualify for benefits. Workers could even receive compensation for getting hurt during a smoke break.
The same doctrine should apply to your work-from-home job. If you are hurt on the way to the kitchen to grab a snack, for example, you may still qualify. What’s important is that you were on the job, taking a small break, with the intent of returning to work. Be careful about overusing this standard. If you take a small break to let the dog out in the yard, you might be covered. If you take 15 minutes to walk the dog around the block, you probably aren’t.
Prove That the Injury Isn’t Your Fault
Maybe your home office is a cluttered mess, and this fact could be used to deny your benefits. However, you can always argue that you have no other options. Say your work provides you with a standing desk. It has legs that can rise and drop, but nothing else. There is no storage, and the job hasn’t funded or provided anything else. Your home office, at that point, might be cluttered, but you don’t have the luxury of buying file cabinets.
The same could be said for dangling, hazardous wires around your home office. If you aren’t given anything to keep wires in place, you may not be to blame if you are shocked.
We’ve touched on this already, but unexpected hazards can count toward workers’ comp. Even if those hazards are created by the kids or the dog.
Documentation is your best friend when filing a work-from-home compensation claim. Take pictures of everything related to your injury. Get pictures of the entire room, and then zoom in on the specific scene of the injury. Let the images tell the story, showing how your injury was related to work.
Medical documents will help as well. If you slipped and hurt your back, for instance, make sure you have x-rays and other doctor’s records to verify this claim.
What If I Partially Work from Home?
Whenever you are harmed on the job, whether from home or in the office, you should be eligible for workers’ compensation. The major difference with partial work-from-home jobs is whether you are covered for travel.
If you work one day in the office, another from home, and so on, you probably won’t be covered if you are hurt on your way to and from the office. However, if your job requires you to leave home, go to the office for a meeting, then go back home, your travel could be considered part of your duties. If you are hurt during your commute, you may be able to collect workers’ comp.
Our team is here to help with workers’ compensation. Whether you are applying or have been denied, we can assist you. For a consultation , call us today at (803) 938-4952 or contact us online.