Workers’ compensation can seem like a straightforward system. If you are injured in a workplace accident or suffer a work-related illness, you qualify for benefits. Of course, there are many areas of the system that can become complicated. With the rising popularity of remote work — and a massive national workforce that suddenly began working from home during the pandemic and lockdown orders — an important question is raised.
Are you still covered by workers’ compensation if you are injured at home while working remotely?
The answer is yes. However, proving the injury was work-related can be somewhat complicated, that is why it is important you contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to get the benefits you deserve.
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Remote Workers and Workers’ Compensation in Florida
In general, employee illnesses and injuries that arise during the course of employment, no matter where the injury happened, are covered by workers’ compensation. This is why employees are also covered if they are involved in a car accident during the course of their job.
A successful workers’ compensation claim will require showing that you were acting in your employer’s interest when the injury happened.
It’s important to note that courts have found that it does not matter that an employer cannot control the conditions of an employee’s home-based environment. This means that when your home is also your work, the court generally finds that the hazards you encounter are also hazards of your employment.
There are two primary hurdles to overcome to win a workers’ compensation claim if you are injured at home:
- You were at your workplace. If you had an agreement with your employer to create a designated workspace such as an office, you may not be covered for injuries that occurred in the living room. Without an agreement, your entire home may be designated as a workspace.
- You were acting in your employer’s interest when the injury occurred. If you deviated from performing your job to performing a task for personal benefit, you may not be covered. Note that you are still generally covered if you are taking breaks from work for meals or using the restroom, however.
If you experienced a unique incident while working from home, you should always consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer! They’ll review your case and help you determine your next steps in the legal process.
When Is an Injury at Home Injury Covered Under Florida Workers’ Compensation?
There are some practices an employer can institute to limit workers’ compensation liability such as:
- Establishing guidelines for a home office.
- Setting fixed work hours with breaks for rest and meals. This can help establish whether an injury happened during the course of employment.
- Creating a telecommuting policy outlying expectations for employees working remotely.
In one case in Florida, a woman was hurt in a slip and fall accident when she tripped over her dog during a coffee break in her kitchen. A Florida Judge of Compensation Claims ruled that the injury was compensable.
In this case, the company’s Telecommuting Agreement required employees to set up a permanent workspace and created set work hours. The employee followed these guidelines and her injury occurred during normal business hours. The agreement did not restrict where she could use the restroom or take a break, nor did it limit the property she could have in her home, in this case, the pet.
In the ruling, the judge determined this agreement established her home as an extension of her employer’s office and it was no different than an employee sustaining a similar injury in the employer’s break room.
Not all home-based injuries are considered compensable under workers’ compensation, however. Cases can be complicated when they involve a remote worker who is working from a coffee shop, for example or caring for their children in their home. In many cases, it will come down to the agreement with the employer and whether it clearly defines a designated workspace in the home. This is why employers can protect themselves to some degree by designating work hours and a workspace.
Contact Our Work Injury Lawyers Today
Remote work has introduced many complications into workers’ compensation claims. While employers have almost no control over an employee’s work environment at home, employees also face challenges. For example, proving an injury was work-related can be harder with less evidence.
Remote workers are still protected by Florida workers’ compensation laws. If you have been hurt in an accident at home while telecommuting, you may face additional challenges in proving our claim. A workers’ compensation lawyer in Florida can help you build your case and fight for the benefits you deserve.
At Work Injury Rights, we have a combined 45 years of experience representing injured workers, including remote workers hurt in at-home accidents. Contact us today for a free consultation to review your case.