Can Remote Workers Get Workers’ Compensation?
During the coronavirus pandemic, millions of American workers switched to remote work. Over a year into the pandemic, 41.8% of them were still working from home. While many will return to the office in the coming months, telecommuting is going to become more and more of a staple. According to Upwork, by 2025, 22% of the U.S. workforce is going to be fully remote.
Whether you’ve always been remote or it’s a fairly recent development, you may be wondering: Can I get workers’ compensation if I get injured while working at home? By finding out this answer, you’ll know what to do if you get hurt on the job.
Workers’ Comp and Telecommuting
If you are injured in the course and scope of employment while working remotely for your employer, then you should be entitled to workers’ compensation. This no-fault system protects you and your employer so that in your time of need, you can use the funds to pay for your medical care.
Essentially, you’ll need to provide information about your injury to ensure that it qualifies. For instance, if you were electrocuted when plugging in your work computer to get started for the day, you might qualify for workers’ compensation. But if you were exercising in your living room before work and sprained your ankle, this would not qualify.
Typical Workers’ Compensation Injuries
You may not know whether or not you should file a claim for workers’ compensation with your employer. For instance, you always imagined that people who fell down in factories and got hit with heavy objects were always prime candidates for workers’ comp. However, even the smallest of injuries could qualify you for receiving compensation.
Since the workforce has been transitioning over the past several decades from factory line jobs to sitting in front of computers all day, there have been some common injuries being reported for workers’ comp.
Computer workers often have repetitive stress injuries, or overuse injuries, where they become injured over time from repeated usage that puts stress on several areas of the body. If you are typing all day long or clicking a mouse repeatedly, for example, you could develop tennis elbow where you feel muscle or tendon pain in your elbow. You could also experience bursitis, where the fluid-filled pads (bursae) that are cushions at the joints become inflamed.
Another possible injury you might experience is carpal tunnel, which happens because there is pressure on the nerves in your wrist. You might feel pain, numbness, weakness, and/or a tingling sensation in your wrist when working for several hours at a time.
If you have any type of repetitive stress injury, you could lose your flexibility, have a reduced range of motion, feel pain and tenderness, and/or lose your strength.
Additionally, you could experience blurry vision from working at a computer all day, or you may get injured in another way altogether.
Reducing Your Chances of Getting Injured While Working Remotely
To reduce the likelihood that you’ll experience a repetitive stress injury at home, there are some steps you can take. First, find an ergonomic desk chair that will support your back. Even though they may be a bit pricey, it’ll be worth it if you’re sitting all day long (plus, your employer might even cover it).
Instead of keeping your laptop on your desk or lap, you could purchase a laptop stand so that you don’t have to bend your neck to see what’s on the screen. If your screen or the text on the screen are too small, you could strain your eyes trying to read. You might want to purchase a bigger screen or make the text on your screen larger.
While you’re working, you could take short breaks where you walk around and stretch. You may also want to keep an eye on your posture to ensure you’re not hunching over and go for regular massages and chiropractic appointments to keep everything aligned and reduce inflammation.
In order to protect your eyes, you could invest in blue light glasses, as well as take breaks from your screen. Looking at natural light throughout the day or working by a window could help as well.
What to Do If You Get Injured
Whether you experience an immediate or a repetitive stress injury, you should let your employer know about it right away. Make sure you have information about your injury available to show them. For instance, if you have an immediate injury, write down right away what happened.
If you have a repetitive stress injury, record details about when you first started feeling the pain and what you did to treat it, if anything. Keep your medical records and always follow your doctor’s orders so that you can recover as soon as possible.
Finally, it is very important in cases like these to get in contact with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to review your situation and help ensure a smooth and successful claim. Workers’ comp claims can get complicated, and employers sometimes deny claims on technicalities and for other sketchy reasons. Having an experienced attorney in your corner will help keep this type of situation from occurring.
Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable Pensacola, FL Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you or a loved one suffered a workplace injury (either remotely or at your employer’s location) in Florida, Whibbs, Stone and Barnett is ready to go to work for you. To schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at 1-888-219-4561.