Can You File a Workplace Injury Claim if You are Working from Home?

The coronavirus has disrupted our lives in numerous ways. Many businesses have been forced to close, and many of those that are still open have moved their workers to their homes at least temporarily. But now that they’ve tested out the telecommuting process, many companies may decide to have their employees work remotely even after this is all over.

The accelerated trend toward telecommuting brings up a very important question, “is an employee eligible for workers’ compensation when they are working from home?” The short answer to this question is “yes”.

The same issues apply to employees who are telecommuting as to those who work on-site. If the company carries workers’ compensation insurance, then all employees would be covered by it, regardless of their location. Furthermore, the same criteria are used in determining whether a work-at-home employee is eligible for workers’ comp – the most important being that the injury must be “work-related”.

This is where things can get a little murky for telecommuting employees. At the job site, the employer has much greater control over the work conditions. They are responsible for implementing the proper safety standards, ergonomics, etc. When an employee is at home, however, the lines between their work and their personal life can become more blurred. Still, courts have found that an employer’s lack of control over the work environment is not a determining factor when it comes to awarding workers’ compensation benefits.

Is it, or Is It Not a Work-Related Injury?

Employees are often confused about when an injury would be considered work-related while they are telecommuting. Here are some examples to help clear some of this up:

  1. Employee One works in his basement home office, but he keeps some of his files and supplies upstairs in his garage. His boss emails him with a question about one of the files. On his way back downstairs after grabbing the file, he trips and falls, injuring his head and neck. Employee One was clearly doing work for his company when he got hurt, so this injury should be considered work-related.
  • Employee Two also works from her basement home office, and she keeps her treadmill across the hall from her office. After lunch, she decides to get a quick workout in before going back to work. She slips and falls while on the treadmill and injures her lower back and leg. Since Employee Two was not doing company work when she got hurt, this injury would probably not be covered by workers’ comp.
  • Employee Three is making facemasks from home to be sent to other workers who are out in the public and potentially exposed to the virus. She gets a call from her supervisor, and while running to pick up the phone, she trips over her child’s toy and gets hurt. Even though a personal item – her child’s toy – played a part in the injury, this should also be considered work-related, because she was answering a call from her supervisor.

One of the major challenges for employees who are hurt while working from home is proving the injury. Unlike the workplace, there will probably be no witnesses, so additional documentation will be needed. Telecommuters who get hurt should report the injury to their employer right away, seek immediate medical attention, and take multiple photographs of the area where they got hurt and what caused it. And because these types of cases can get complicated, it would also be a good idea to retain the services of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.

We are Here When you Need Us

The country is going through a very tough time right now, and many people have had their lives turned upside down. Employees who are working at home for the first time may not realize that they have the same rights to workers’ compensation benefits as those who work on-site. They do need to show that they were acting in the interest of the employer at the time the injury, however, and this is not always easy.

At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, we have several decades of experience successfully representing individuals with workers’ compensation claims. And during this difficult time, we want you to know that we are still here for you. Although we are doing most of our work remotely and following all of the social distancing guidelines, we have the technology and resources to continue providing the strong personalized representation our clients have come to expect from us.

For skilled legal guidance with workers compensation and personal injury claims, message us online or call our office today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789. We look forward to serving you!

How Workplace Injuries Affect Families

Each day, millions of Americans face various types of hazards in the workplace. Whether it is in the steel mills of Pittsburgh, the coal mines of West Virginia, construction sites throughout the Midwest and around the country, or countless other difficult jobs, America’s blue-collar workers are repeatedly asked to perform many brave tasks during the course of a typical work day.

Unfortunately, injuries on the job are an all-too-familiar part of the workplace environment. An estimated 8.5 million workplace injuries occur each year, and more than 5,000 individuals die annually because of a work-related event. These injuries come at a major cost financially and in many other ways as well.

The financial costs alone are upwards of $250 billion per year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. But this is only part of the story. There is a great human cost to workplace injuries that does not always receive the attention it deserves.

For the injured worker, the immense physical and emotional effects associated with an on-the-job injury or illness are difficult to imagine. Day after day, they are forced to live with immense pain and suffering, which causes difficulty moving around, sleepless nights, and similar problems. This results in a severely diminished quality of life in which the worker is no longer able to enjoy the activities they once did.

On top of the physical pain, there are the psychological aspects of getting hurt and being out of work for an extended period of time. For an individual who takes pride in putting in a hard day’s work to provide for their family, a workplace injury can be emotionally devastating. And this brings us to another cost that is seldomly discussed; the effect workplace injuries have on families.

How Families are Impacted by Job-Related Injuries

When someone who is a primary breadwinner in a household is no longer able to work, it can severely impact everyone else in the family. For starters, spouses of the injured worker often have to take on extra work just to make ends meet. And they must do this while helping to care for their ailing mate.

Then there are the children. Depending on the age, it can be very difficult for a child to deal with the reality of a parent whom they have always viewed as a strong provider suddenly becoming weak and vulnerable. And with some conditions, the injured worker could become heavily or entirely dependent upon the spouse and children just to perform basic daily functions.

In single-parent households, the impact of a workplace injury can be even more devastating. When there is just one provider in a household, everything falls on their shoulders. So, when their income is taken away or reduced significantly, there may be far fewer financial options available. In addition, the duty of caregiving for a single parent could often fall squarely on the shoulders of the children, who may be too young or mature to take on this kind of role.

Legal Options for Individuals who are Injured in the Workplace

Most employers in Pennsylvania and throughout the country are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. So, when an employee who is covered by workers’ comp gets hurt, this is the first place they would go to obtain financial help.

Workers’ compensation is a system that provides benefits to covered employees regardless of who was at fault for the accident or event that causes the injury. Although this is the way it is supposed to work, it is not always this simple. The workers’ comp claims process is complicated and confusing, and some employers put up unnecessary roadblocks designed to frustrate workers into giving up on the benefits they deserve.

If this has happened to you or someone you know, or you are just confused about the workers’ compensation process, call our office for a free consultation and case evaluation. We will meet with you to thoroughly assess your situation and advise you on how best to go about recovering the benefits you need.

Workers’ comp is a no-fault system, and because of this, employees who are eligible for benefits are generally barred from filing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. There is a notable exception to this rule, however. In Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and some other states, an employee may be able to sue an employer if it can be shown that their injury resulted from the employer’s deliberate intention.

Deliberate intent claims are highly complex actions, and the burden of proof is on the employee to show that the employer acted deliberately to cause them harm. To prevail with this type of action, you will need strong evidence and a convincing argument given by attorneys who have proven experience with these types of cases.

There are some workplace injuries that are the fault (at least partially) of a party other than the employer or the employee. For example, an injury on a construction site could be caused by a subcontractor who is working alongside an employee of the construction company. Another example would be a defective piece of machinery in a factory that malfunctions at the wrong time, causing injury to an employee who is working with it.

In these and other cases in which a workplace injury is caused by a third party, it may be possible to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible. This could potentially allow you to recover compensation not only for economic losses, but also for non-economic losses such as pain-and-suffering, psychological distress, and loss of enjoyment.

Contact the Skilled and Knowledgeable Workplace Injury Attorneys at Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury on the job, you need strong legal counsel in your corner advocating aggressively for your rights and interests. At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C., we have several decades of experience standing up for the working people of Pennsylvania, and we work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward obtaining maximum compensation for their injuries.

To schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789.