Thanks to COVID-19, thousands of American workers are now working from home. Each day, they set up at dining room tables, in basements, in spare bedrooms, and – rarely – in home offices. This new work environment presents challenges for both employers and employees.
Companies, for example, must accept that they can’t control their employees’ remote work environment. And employees must realize that work-related injuries can and do happen outside the office’s carefully designed world.
Given that employers can’t control the work environment, can employees still access workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured on the job? And who is liable in the case of a work-from-home injury? That’s the topic we’re exploring today.
How A Work From Home Injury Happens
It may sound unlikely to be injured working from home, but it’s not as far-flung as it seems. A case of carpal-tunnel from typing all day. A tweaked elbow from lifting the office chair over kids’ toys. What happens when someone gets injured?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all for these cases. Our attorneys agree that, if the accident arises out of and during employment, it is a compensable accident. Even if the employee was working remotely. The main legal challenge, then, is proving that the injury event falls within the definition of “arising out of and in the course of employment.”
In Pennsylvania, for example, an appellate court is reviewing a claim by a woman who fell while working from home and sustained a severe neck injury. According to Lexology:
The appellate court affirmed an award of benefits to the worker, reasoning that the employee was authorized by the employer to work from home. She was working before leaving her home office to get a glass of juice, and she had only deviated briefly from her work activities at the time of the injury. The court determined that the home work office was an approved ‘secondary work premise’ and determined that the injury occurred while the employee was engaged in the furtherance of the employer’s business and affairs.
What About Homeowners Insurance?
If you’re injured working from home will your homeowner’s insurance cover the injury? It’s important to keep in mind that homeowners insurance is not business insurance. Its purpose is to protect personal property and personal activities. In most states, there are strict rules about how homeowners insurance handles the loss of items and activities marked “for business use.”
While homeowner’s insurance may offer some level of protection for business property, such as a computer. There are generally limits to this coverage. While the legal standard around work-from-home injuries is still murky. It’s likely injuries would not be covered under homeowners insurance. And that you would need business insurance to cover them, instead.
Getting the Settlement You Deserve
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a host of new challenges. Not the least of which is figuring out liability when someone suffers work from home injuries. If you’re injured while working from home, you need a skilled personal injury firm that can help you claim your settlement.
Whether the coverage comes from your insurance policy or your employer, our team will work with you to ensure a fair payout and help streamline your case. Contact us today to learn more about our services.