The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new wave of telecommuting. Even as restrictions ease and more employers are bringing back workers to the office, many are choosing a hybrid work schedule or continuing to work at home. What many employers and employees may not realize is that hazards in the home, just as in the workplace, can cause workplace injuries. Many wonder, can remote workers get workers compensation?
What is Workers Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a ‘no-fault’ system in most states, including New Jersey and New York. If you are injured on the job or develop an occupational disease, you may be eligible for workers compensation benefits. In order to receive workers compensation benefits, you must only prove that your illness or injury happened because of your employment or 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.
- Temporary Disability: You can receive up to two-thirds of the wages of your average weekly amount if you must miss work due to your injury or illness.
- Permanent Disability (Total or Partial): If your injury leaves you unable to ever return to work or work in the same capacity, you may be eligible to file a claim for permanent disability to cover lost income.
- 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 funeral and death 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 remote employees often include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Back injury and strain
- Repetitive strain injuries
- Slip and fall injuries.
‘Coming and Going’ in Workers Compensation Cases
Whether you’re working in an office, worksite or remotely, 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 14 - 30 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 York and New Jersey, your employer or its insurer will refer you to a doctor of its choosing called an Independent Medical Exam. 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. If you are a remote worker and suffered a work-related injury, you have the right to access workers compensation benefits.
If your employer or insurance company has denied a claim or you’re being offered a settlement that won’t meet your expenses, discuss your case with an experienced workers comp lawyer. 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 now for a free consultation.