Are you covered for injuries when working from home in Georgia?
The pandemic has changed workplace culture in ways that will likely last far beyond the pandemic restrictions and temporary office closures. As cities instituted shelter-in-place orders, many nonessential workplaces moved to a teleworking model—some permanently.
With more workers telecommuting and working from home, workers and employees are increasingly asking whether workers’ compensation covers employees who are injured while working from home.
The short answer is:
Does workers’ comp traditionally cover offsite workers?
Georgia requires businesses that employ more than 3 employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Because workers’ comp is a no-fault system, workers are eligible to receive benefits for workplace injuries regardless of who was at fault for the injury.
The determining question in offsite worker injury cases is whether the injury was work-related. While offsite work-related injury cases are not new, shelter-in-place orders forced more companies to quickly shift to a mandatory teleworking model.
First, you must establish that an injury occurred within the scope of your employment. If you have been injured while working from home, our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers can help you file a claim to receive the benefits you deserve.
Establishing a workers’ comp case for employees who work from home
Telecommuters are usually in their own homes, where they often have the autonomy and flexibility to complete other tasks. Therefore, there is now more of a gray area in determining whether an injury occurred within the scope of the worker’s employment.
When an employee reports a work-related injury that occurred at home, the insurance company will seek out evidence to suggest that the injury occurred during an activity that wasn’t work-related.
For example, if a worker accidentally burns themselves while getting coffee at home during a company conference call, the worker can likely file a claim for workers’ comp. However, if the employee burns themselves while getting coffee outside of work hours during a movie marathon, the worker will likely be met with more challenges to their compensation claim.
Questions injured workers typically must answer include:
- Was the employee engaging in activities that benefit the employer at the time the injury occurred?
- Did the employer require the employee to engage in the activity that caused the injury?
- Had the employer approved the offsite activity prior to the worker’s injury?
Georgia courts typically favor the injured worker
Although work-from-home cases may present additional gray areas, courts typically err on the side of protecting the worker. The courts’ worker-friendly approach to workplace accident compensation is within the best interests of the employer and the injured worker.
The broad application of workers’ comp coverage to cover work-from-home accidents ensures coverage of the injured worker’s medical expenses while they recover. Employers avoid potential negligence lawsuits that injured workers may otherwise file against the employer in the absence of workers’ compensation coverage.
The court system also benefits from extending coverage to include a broader variety of offsite injuries. Covering medical expenses through workers’ comp means lessening Georgia courts’ potential caseloads and eliminating the costs and resources that are typically required in lengthy civil lawsuits.
Defending your rights in a work-from-home injury case
If you get injured while working from home, there are certain hurdles you may have to overcome before receiving benefits.
First, you will have to establish that your injury occurred within the scope of your employment. Georgia law also authorizes your employer and its insurance carrier to require you to provide evidence that you reported the injury to your employer within 30 days of occurrence in addition to showing you did not cause the accident by willful conduct.
An employer may also ask you to take a drug test or provide a valid reason for not submitting to drug testing. Every work-from-home workers’ comp case is different. Therefore, you should always seek out a case evaluation from an experienced lawyer.
Contact our Georgia workers’ comp attorneys for your free case evaluation
Our experienced, dedicated Georgia workers’ comp attorneys at Gerber & Holder Law will evaluate your case to determine eligibility and help you gather the evidence you need to file a claim.
For employees who are working from home, employer obligations are the same as they are to employees who work onsite. We have a proven track record of defending injured workers’ rights to workers’ compensation, working from home, onsite or at other authorized offsite locations.