Injured While Working at Home: Can You Still Get Workers’ Compensation?
Thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, more Pennsylvanians are working from home than ever. But certain things haven’t changed. Even if you are working from home, if you get injured while performing work duties, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation.
Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation
Pennsylvania law requires most employers with employees working in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to have Workers’ Compensation insurance. This insurance compensates employees for medical treatment and lost wages associated with work-related injuries and illnesses. In exchange, workers cannot sue employers for injury-related costs, except for in particular circumstances.
Work-related Injuries Occurring In The Home
To qualify for workers’ compensation, you must prove that the injury occurred within the course and scope of employment. When you get injured at your job’s physical location, it’s often easier to connect work and your injury. For example, if you tripped and fell over a stack of boxes in the hallway of your office while bringing work files to a colleague, it would be difficult for an employer to argue that the injury didn’t occur within the employment scope.
When you’re working from home, it can be more challenging to prove that your injury resulted from work. If you’re working from home and trip over your child’s LEGOs as you rise to get a cup coffee, is it still a work injury? If you break your ankle hurrying down the stairs to answer a call on your work cell phone, is it a work-related injury? In both cases, the answer is “maybe,” but the more closely tied the harm is to your work, the higher your chance of succeeding on your workers’ compensation claim.
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Board will generally examine three questions:
- How was the employer benefiting from the employee’s actions when the injury occurred?
- Did the employer require the employee to engage in the injury-causing activity?
- Did the employer approve the remote work activity in advance?
Given the current health crisis and the need for many employees to work from home, the Board will generally view a reasonable work-related injury favorably. Nonetheless, if you get injured at home, you should promptly inform your employer, document the circumstances of your injury, and file the workers’ compensation form. Taking these steps promptly will help you preserve your claim and prepare you for a rigorous fact-finding investigation.
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you assess the strength of a potential claim or determine the best course of action if your employer contests your claim. If you have suffered a work-related injury while working remotely, contact our qualified workers’ comp attorneys and lawyers as soon as possible.