In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to adopt a work-from-home model. For employees, this has meant greater flexibility, reduced commuting time and expenses, and the ability to work from anywhere with an internet connection.
However, remote work also presents unique challenges regarding workers’ compensation, also known as workers’ comp. Because employees are working outside of a traditional office setting, it can be more complicated to determine whether an injury or illness is work-related.
If you work from home, you may be wondering: “Am I eligible for workers’ comp if I get injured?” The short answer is yes.
What is Workers’ Comp?
Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation defines workers’ comp as an accident insurance program paid by the employer, which may provide the employee with medical, wage replacement, and certain other benefits if they are injured on the job. In the case of a workplace fatality, it can also provide death benefits to the employee’s dependents.
Under Georgia law, any business with three or more workers, including regular part-timers, is required to have workers’ compensation insurance.
To be covered by workers’ compensation, an injury must meet certain legal requirements in Georgia. These include:
- The beneficiary must be an employee: true independent contractors and volunteers are typically not covered by workers’ comp. (Note, however, that many employees are misclassified by their employers as independent contractors, and a good lawyer may still be able to get them insurance benefits).
- The injury must have occurred within the scope of the employee’s job duties: if it happened while the employee was on a break or engaged in personal activities, it may be difficult to get it covered.
- The injury must have been caused by a specific event or series of events: if it happened gradually over time, like a repetitive stress injury, it may still fall under workers’ compensation, but only if it occurred due to the employee’s duties while on the job. (Think of a jackhammer operator whose joints break down over time – this is a valid workers’ compensation claim).
- The injury must have been reported to the employer within 30 days of happening.
It’s important to note that workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system, which means that the employee doesn’t need to prove that their employer was at fault for the injury. In fact, the injury can be your own fault, and you would still be entitled to benefits in most circumstances.
How to Determine if an Injury is Eligible for Workers’ Comp
Here’s an easy-to-follow checklist to help you determine if you’re entitled to compensation for an injury sustained while working remotely:
Was the injury work-related?
In general, if the injury or illness occurred while you were performing job duties, it may be considered work-related and covered by workers’ compensation.
Did the injury occur during working hours?
If this is the case, it can be eligible. However, if the injury occurred during a break or while you were performing a personal task, it may be challenging to prove that it was within the course and scope of your job.
Was the injury caused by a condition of the workspace?
Injuries caused by a broken chair, faulty equipment, or other essential hardware may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. However, if the condition was caused by something unrelated to the job, such as a non-work-related personal item, it may not qualify you for benefits. That said, this area of law is still developing, so you should consult an attorney about whether your particular set of facts, and your particular accident, qualify for benefits.
Was the injury caused by a third party?
If the damage was caused by a third party, such as a delivery driver or a visitor, you may still be eligible for workers’ comp. This is true even if you also have a personal injury claim against that third party.
Did you follow company policies and procedures?
For example, reporting the injury within 30 days or implementing proper safety procedures. However, note that failure to follow safety procedures is not always a bar to getting workers’ compensation. In fact, most work accidents involve someone ignoring a safety measure, or being careless, and most such accidents still qualify for benefits.
How to Ensure Your Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Comp
- Work accidents at home are a developing area of law. So call a lawyer quickly to determine whether your injury qualifies.
- Document all work activities, including the tasks performed and the number of hours worked. Taking photos of your workspace and equipment can also be helpful. Give all of this to your attorney. This evidence can help establish that an injury indeed occurred during the course of your employment.
- Report injuries promptly to your employer, listing every single injured body part, to ensure that the company properly documents them.
Going back to the question, “Can I file for workers’ compensation if I work from home?”, the answer is yes, but it depends on several factors. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine whether your particular situation qualifies you for benefits.
If you have further questions or concerns about workers’ comp for remote employees, or if you or a loved one has been injured while working from home, don’t hesitate to seek legal advice.
At Morrison & Hughes, we have a history of multi-million-dollar results and have handled some of the biggest injury claims in Georgia. With offices throughout the state, including Atlanta, Marietta, Alpharetta, Hiram, LaGrange, Fayetteville, and Decatur our team of attorneys won’t back down against injustice and are prepared to defend your rights.
Contact us today at (404) 689-2734 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your legal options.
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