Can I File a Workers Compensation Claim if I Was Injured While Working from Home?

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Florida personal injury definitions
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Can I File a Workers Compensation Claim if I Was Injured While Working from Home?

workers compensation while working from home

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’ Compensation Claim Process

  1. Report the injury to your employer as soon as possible (30-day time limit)
  2. Visit an approved physician for diagnosis and treatment
  3. Employer reports the injury to their workers’ comp insurer
  4. Workers’ comp insurer should contact the injured worker to provide info (within three days of being notified)
  5. Workers’ comp insurer approves the claim and begins sending benefit checks (within 21 days) or denies the claim
  6. If your claim is denied you need to make a “good-faith attempt” to resolve the benefits dispute and/or contact the Florida Employee Assistance and Ombudsman Office
  7. If your attempt to resolve your benefit dispute is rejected, you should file a petition with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC) (you’ll need to provide copies of this petition to your employer and their workers’ comp insurer)
  8. The workers’ comp insurer must respond to the petition within 14 days
  9. A Judge of Compensation Claims will preside over a mediation session between you, your workers’ comp attorney (if you have one), your employer and their workers’ comp insurer (the mediation must be ordered within 40 days after the petition is filed and must be held within 130 days of the petition being filed)
  10. Your case may be settled during this mediation or will go to a pre-trial hearing
  11. After the pre-trial hearing, the final hearing to resolve the dispute is held (within 90 days of the initial mediation and no more than 210 days after the petition is first filed)
  12. Within 30 days the assigned judge will issue their decision on your workers’ comp dispute
  13. If either party disagrees with the decision, they can appeal (within 30 days)
  14. The judge must send the appeal to the First District Court of Appeal to review (within 60 days of the appeal being filed)
  15. The First District Court of Appeals decides on the appeal

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.

Getting Your Workplace Injury Claim Started

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.