Workers' compensation insurance is designed to pay for time lost due to workplace injuries. But with advances in technology, the workplace has expanded to cover far more territory than the office.
So what happens if you're injured while working from home or on the road? Can workers' compensation cover injuries suffered while telecommuting?
Is My Home Office Just Like My Real Office?
For the most part, any injury that arises out of or during the course of employment is eligible for workers' compensation. As long as you were doing something on behalf of your employer or otherwise in the course of employment, your injury will probably be considered work-related. This can include injuries sustained out of the office, if you were doing something connected to your job.
While there aren't many cases involving telecommuting injuries, those that do exist have sided with employees. Professors who have slipped on papers in their home office, interior decorators who have tripped over their dogs while viewing samples in their garage, and even a woman assaulted while making lunch in her kitchen have all been found to have workplace injuries that qualify for workers' comp.
Is My Injury Compensable?
Telecommuting injuries can be the same as you'd suffer in an office. Neck pain, back injuries, stress, migraines, and repetitive motion injuries can all occur in your home, and may be compensable under workers' comp.
In any possible workers' compensation scenario you should report the injury to your employer, in writing if possible, and document as much of your injury as you can. Your employer should give you a claims form, which you need to complete and return as soon as possible. Your employer should then file the claim form with its workers' compensation insurance company and arrange for payment of your workers' comp benefits.
If your employer doesn't carry workers' comp coverage or hasn't filed your claim properly, or if your workers' comp claim has been denied, you should talk to an experienced workers' compensation attorney about your case.