If you work remotely, you may be covered by workers’ compensation, even though your job duties don’t take you onto your employer’s premises. However, there are a number of factors that could impact your claim should you be injured on the job while working from home.
Remote Employee Vs. Independent Contractor
First of all, it’s important to distinguish whether you’re actually an employee. If you’re a freelancer or independent contractor, then you don’t qualify for workers’ compensation coverage.
Typically, if the following apply, then you’re considered an employee:
- You filled out a W-2 with your employer.
- Your employer controls your hours.
- Your employer controls how work is done.
- You receive a regular salary/hourly wage.
- You receive medical benefits.
- Your employer withholds taxes from your paycheck.
On the other hand, if few or none of the above apply, then you’d be considered an independent contractor, and would therefore not be entitled to benefits.
Qualifying for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you are involved in an accident or otherwise develop an injury while on the job, then you most likely qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Typically, when looking at your claim, the insurance company will consider whether the injury arose directly out of fulfilling job-related duties. That can include:
- Occupational illnesses
- Repetitive strain injuries
However, it wouldn’t include simply being injured in your home office during off hours. Your injury has to be work-related.
Workers’ Compensation if You Work Out of State
If your employer is in another state, the usual rule is you’re able to receive benefits based on the state where you reside. However, each state has its own laws. In Illinois, for instance, you’re covered by Illinois workers’ comp laws if:
- Your primary place of work is in Illinois.
- Your employment contract was drawn up within the state of Illinois.
- Your injury occurred within the state in the course of your employment duties.
If none of these apply, then you’d likely be covered by the laws of the state where you currently work.
Challenges of Securing Benefits for Remote Work Injuries
While you are entitled to benefits for work injuries as a remote worker, there are challenges that may arise in the course of filing a claim. One of those challenges is that there are likely no coworkers to witness your injury. In addition, the line between a work injury and an unrelated one may seem blurred since either would occur in your home.
Doing the following can be crucial to overcoming these challenges:
- Immediately report your injury to your supervisor in writing.
- Get medical help as soon as possible. Delays may compromise your claim.
- Make sure you tell your doctor that you were injured while working.
- Consult with a workers’ compensation attorney.
The good news is that if you can establish that your injury occurred in the course of fulfilling work duties, then you should be able to receive benefits. However, it helps to have legal representation on your side, particularly if you experience some pushback from your employer or their insurance provider. In those cases, Hart David Carson LLP can help you.