Yes, if the injury was sustained while performing your employment duties. Your physical location at the time of the injury is less important than what you were doing when the injury occurred. This rule applies to any professionals injured offsite while performing their job duties, like in an auto accident or at a client’s place of business or residence.
However, if you fall off a chair you were standing on while attempting to change a lightbulb at home, you likely won’t be able to file a workers’ comp claim, even if it happened while you were “on the clock.” The injury cause must be something related to your actual job duties.
Although white collar job injuries tend to be less common than service sector, manufacturing or agricultural job injuries, they can still occur. Many work-from-home injuries that happen during the COVID-19 pandemic are repetitive stress injuries.
Some office workers have special ergonomic chairs or keyboard wrist-rests in their office that they might not have at home. Workers could also be sitting at uncomfortable kitchen tables or counters working for eight plus hours a day in positions that could cause back problems or carpal tunnel.
People who have suffered these types of injuries should file an injury claim with their employer’s workers’ comp insurance company. However, proving an injury that happened at home is work related isn’t always easy.
When a landscaper or construction worker is injured by a piece of equipment, it’s relatively easy to prove when and how the injury occurred. Someone who works on a computer at a desk in their own home may have more trouble showing their carpal tunnel or back injury is related to their job and wasn’t caused or exacerbated by non-work-related activities.
The workers’ comp dispute process is very long. You may have noticed the process of disputing a workers’ comp claim denial can potentially take well over a year to resolve.
Some injured workers may try to tackle this process on their own, and if your employer and their workers’ comp insurer doesn’t dispute your benefits you may not need any legal assistance. Injured workers often don’t need to get a workers’ comp attorney involved until their benefits for a legitimate workplace injury are denied.
Every office should have a panel of doctors posted in a break room or some other common area. People working from home may not have easy access to this document, but your employer’s HR department or your manager should be able to provide it for you. In most cases, you’ll need to consult with a doctor from this panel after you report your injury to your manager. Receiving treatment from an employer-authorized doctor is key to getting compensated for your health care costs.
The physician you choose from the panel will perform diagnostics and ask about how your injury occurred. This doctor will provide recommendations on treatments and how long you will need to be out of work. Your workers’ comp health and wage benefits will be based on those decisions.
If you feel like you’re being treated unfairly, or your employer is trying to intimidate or discourage you from reporting a work-related injury, you should consider reaching out to Florida’s Bureau of Employee Assistance or a lawyer who represents injured workers.