An injury can be devastating to a worker as it can result in costly medical bills and even lost work or other personal costs. With remote work steadily on the rise, navigating the waters of compensation for work-related injuries can get murky. It is a common misconception that remote workers are ineligible for workers’ compensation due to their off-site physical location. However, lawmakers know that not all work happens on-site so that off-site work-related injuries can result in workers’ compensation. For example, if a driver is injured during a delivery, this instance would typically qualify him or her for workers’ compensation.
While there are rules and regulations that may disqualify certain instances of off-site injury, there is still a possibility of compensation in manycases for remote workers.
IS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION DIFFERENT BY STATE?
Laws with regards to workers’ compensation do differ slightly by state. For example, some states mandate that all private employers maintain workers’ compensation coverage. Other states require a private employer to provide this benefit only if they employ a certain number of workers. Additionally, some states may be more stringent in determining if an off-site injury was work-related. They may closely examine when, where, and how the injury took place in the home.
WAS IT A WORK RELATED INJURY?
Workers’ compensation is typically paid without issue when an employee suffers an injury while performing work-related duties. For a remote employee, however, it is more difficult to determine whether the injury was actually work-related, and the worker is responsible for proving that this was the case. It is easy in with some injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, to prove the connection between work and the injury sustained. Other instances, like a slip and fall, can be more challenging to prove. Here are some things you can do as a remote employee to ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to when you are injured:
- Report the injury to your employer immediately
- Compile a description of the incident in as much detail as you can
- Try to take pictures of the injury and the location where the incident happened
- Keep any and all medical records associated with the injury
WHAT IF I AM AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR?
Employers are not required by state law to cover independent contractors with workers’ compensation insurance. If you are an independent contractor, you may not get the benefits you need in the case of injury. Some employers may inappropriately categorize certain remote employees as independent contractors in order to evade providing this benefit. If you do not think you are an independent contractor, be sure your employer does not have you classified as one in their records.
HOW CAN I ENSURE THAT I AM PROTECTED AGAINST A DENIED WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM?
In this new world of increasing virtual work and telecommuting, it can be difficult for a remote employee to prove that an injury is work-related. More and more remote employees are successfully receiving workers’ compensation for injuries sustained while working in their home. As the employee, it is your responsibility to document the incident in detail and collect as much evidence as you can to ensure you get the benefits you need to combat financial loss.