Workers’ compensation is a fantastic source of financial relief for employees who sustain injuries at work and/or suffer disabilities because of work-related injuries. The workers’ compensation systems in Missouri and Kansas protect employees in the event of an injury, regardless of who was at fault. When an employee works from home, however, the rules can change – giving many remote workers cause for concern.
Workers’ Compensation Rules
Workers’ compensation typically covers any injuries that occur in a work-related incident. This includes injuries that happen outside of the workplace, as long as the employee was engaged in a work-related activity. Injuries on a business trip, during a delivery, and while visiting a client on business are all examples of injuries workers’ compensation will cover outside of the workplace.
With the rise of the remote worker, there’s been a subsequent rise in employees filing workers’ comp claims for injuries they sustained on the job while at home. The outcomes of these cases have varied according to different state statutes and the specific details involved in the injury. The cases workers’ compensation has denied typically involve independent contractors or situations in which the committee decided that the injured employee didn’t have grounds for a claim.
Workers’ comp doesn’t cover independent contractors. State law doesn’t require employers to carry insurance coverage for independent contractors, and thus these workers can’t file a workers’ compensation claim. However, some companies misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid having to pay for insurance. Double-check that your employer has properly classified you to ensure you can receive benefits.
Cases Workers’ Comp Accepts
In general, workers’ compensation must accept claims for employee injuries or illnesses that arise out of and in the scope of employment, no matter where they occur. If an at-home employee suffers an injury such as a slip and fall while performing a work-related activity, he or she has every right to file a claim. However, the employee has a burden of proof to show that his or her injuries occurred as the result of or during work.
In one real-life case, Sandberg v. JC Penney, an employee successfully received workers’ compensation for her injuries after tripping over her dog while walking to the garage. Sandberg was a designer, working from a home studio. She kept her work materials in her garage as part of her job. Since her home premises was also her work premises, the court decided that her injury did indeed arise in the course of her employment.
In this particular case, the details helped Sandberg obtain workers’ compensation coverage. The courts denied her first claim but reconsidered upon an appeal. Sandberg was a designer required to work in her home and garage. In a situation where a remote employee isn’t required to work from home but chooses to do so, the courts may have ruled differently.
If an employee works a telecommuting job where there’s no in-office work option and sustains a work-related injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome from typing, he or she can reasonably make a workers’ compensation claim like any other employee. Simply working from home doesn’t automatically make an employee ineligible to receive workers’ comp benefits. It comes down to the specifics of the incident and the injury and whether the employee can prove the cause of the injuries.
If You’re Hurt at Work at Home
If you sustain an injury in your Missouri or Kansas home while performing a work-related task, report the accident to your employer right away. Document your injury with photographs, medical records, and a detailed description of the incident. If workers’ compensation denies your request, contact Dickerson Oxton, LLC to speak with a Kansas City work injury attorney who can help you file an appeal.