The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new wave of telecommuting remote workers and the trend doesn’t seem to be waning. What many employees and employees may not realize is that hazards in the home can cause workplace injuries. Do you qualify for workers compensation benefits if you’re injured while working from home?
What is Workers Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a ‘no-fault’ system in most states, including New Jersey. In order to receive workers compensation benefits, you must only prove that your illness or injury happened because of your employment or while working. If you suffer an injury while working, the following are some of the benefits for which you can file a claim:
- Compensation for Medical Expenses: Covers medical treatment, surgeries, prescription medications, rehabilitative devices, and transportation to and from medical appointments.
- Permanent Disability: If your injury leaves you unable to ever return to work, you can file a claim for permanent disability.
- Temporary Disability: You can get two-thirds of the wages of your average weekly amount if your temporary disability claim is approved.
- Life Pension: If you are severely disabled with more than a 70% permanent disability rating, you can receive weekly life pension benefits.
- Death Benefits: If a workplace injury results in death, the surviving members of the worker’s family can file a claim for death benefits to cover various expenses.
Even before COVID, legal precedent established that workers compensation benefits are available for remote workers, if the injury occurred during the course and scope of job related activities. Common work-related injuries for telecommuters include repetitive strain injuries often from the lack of ergonomically supportive desks and chairs as well as slip and fall injuries.
‘Coming and Going’ in Workers Compensation Cases
Whether you’re working in an office, worksite or at home, there are some scenarios that are generally not covered by workers compensation. One area of confusion is the ‘coming and going’ rule. Generally, employees are not covered by workers compensation when traveling to and from work.
The exception to this rule is when employees are traveling for work or business purposes, have no fixed workplace or are traveling for a special reason or project as directed by their employer. In this manner, a remote worker who manages a sales territory and drives to various customer locations each day would qualify for workers compensation if injured while coming or going to work.
How to File a Workers Compensation Claim
If you have been injured on the job, inform your employer immediately. You’ll need to verbally or in writing notify your manager, boss or supervisor – anyone with authority over you. In most states, you must notify an employer within 30-45 days of an injury or illness, and a failure to notify may result in a denial of benefits. However, in some states, the notification period is shorter -- don’t wait.
In some states, like New Jersey, your employer or its insurer will refer you to a doctor of its choosing. In other states, an objective medical examination will be required by the workers' compensation agency. Regardless of where you live, informing your employer immediately or very soon after your injury will help your case.
Do You Need a Workers Compensation Attorney?
While the workers compensation process may seem straight-forward, it does not necessarily guarantee that you will be compensated fairly. Has your employer denied a claim you recently filed? Were you awarded workers’ comp benefits but it is not enough to cover your medical expenses? At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we are dedicated to assisting clients throughout New Jersey and New York with their workers’ compensation cases. We have years of experience and the extensive resources you need to secure a fair case result. Contact us today.