As cities in California mandated stay-at-home orders and most employers implemented strict workplace safety measures in order to minimize the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, many American employees carried out their occupational tasks remotely. Although some restrictions have changed and eased throughout the pandemic, keep in mind that many employees still remain at home for their work.
For those organizations in California that can transition to remote working for all their employees, they also have to accept the various challenges and complications of not having full control over their workers’ remote work space. Note that for employees that usually work in the office, special consideration is given to the design of the space so that it is ergonomic and safe. This helps reduce the risk of injuries during work hours.
However, with the quick shift to remote work because of COVID-19 shelter in place orders, many employees in California may not have the resources or space in order to set up an identical work station. As a result, they may be more prone to injuries at work.
Injuries You may Sustain While Working from Your Home
You can sustain a work-related injury even at home. For example, injuries such as a slip and fall while you use your bathroom or tripping over your furry companion as you hurry to scan a document are common. However, also note that cumula US companies spent about $50 billion annuallytive injuries that usually occur over several weeks or even months of working without the usual ergonomic gear may sideline you.
Did you know that on various musculoskeletal disorders that workers developed from work? This is because employees at home during the pandemic may not adhere to all the guidelines implemented at the office. And this can result in injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or back pain.
Injured at Home – Is this a California Workers’ Compensation Injury?
We know and understand that you try to stay safe at your home just as you do at your office. However, accidents can happen, and various injuries may occur over time. This is especially true if the at-home work equipment is not up to workplace standards. And if you have injured yourself and are not able to perform your work, you might be wondering if you have the right to file a California workers’ comp claim.
If you are working at home because of the stay at home order and sustained an injury at your home, then you may have a compensable workers’ comp injury.
In most cases, if your employment relationship or contract contemplates a need to work from home, note that the workplace for California workers’ comp purposes extends to your home if an injury occurs. It is worth noting that this is becoming more common as employees throughout California are now working remotely from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
California Workers’ Compensation Law
Keep in mind that the workers’ comp system in California doesn’t cover independent contractors. The system only provides benefits to employees in the state. So, if the remote worker is an employee, she or he may be eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits after an injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome – even if the injury occurs at home or someplace other than the usual place of work.
You should know that as long as the condition or injury arises during the course of employment, California workers’ compensation will likely cover damages.
Workers’ Compensation Coverage during the Coronavirus
If an injury is sustained while performing work for an organization that’s temporarily shut down or an employee has either been furloughed or laid-off, the injury may be disputed. However, if your employer has encouraged the activity, we can argue that the injury should be covered by California workers’ compensation. Note that this is an excellent example of where maintaining a time log of the relevant activity as well as how long the work took, could come in handy.
Also, remember that any communications from your employer regarding these activities may also be very important, so you have to keep track of them.
Proving a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you are a remote employee, the steps for obtaining adequate workers’ compensation coverage include reporting the injury to your employer and filing a benefits claim. You may also have to supply supporting documentation if needed. Note that for an illness or injury that you sustain while telecommuting, the insurance provider might ask for additional evidence.
For example, the insurance company might need proof that you were performing work-related tasks or activities at the time of the incident. This is where a competent lawyer can help an injured employee gather evidence in order to support the benefits claim. Some of the evidence may include:
- Timesheet showing when you timed in and out
- Work-related phone calls, emails, or communications both before and after the incident
- Your accident report
- Paychecks or paystubs
- Hospital bills and medical records
- The opinion of a medical expert on how or when the injury happened
A potential issue that often arises in the context of remote work is whether the injured individual was an employee or an independent contractor. Usually, workers’ compensation in California doesn’t pay for injuries sustained by independent contractors.
Get Help from a California Workers’ Compensation Attorney
As the “new normal” considerably changes the way we approach our jobs and health and safety, consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced workers’ compensation attorney in California, like James E. Latimer, is essential.
Although you may file a workers’ compensation claim in California for an at-home accident, note that getting approved for benefits is often quite the challenge. And as you aren’t in an office environment with proper supervision, your employer can’t be certain that you were on the clock at the time of the accident. A workers’ compensation attorney can listen to all the facts of your case and can appropriately advise you on how to proceed.
The team of California workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of James E. Latimer could help and guide you with your injury claims if you worked remotely when the accident occurred. Our team of skilled, knowledgeable and experienced attorneys has a deep understanding of California workers’ compensation laws. Get in touch with our office right now to schedule a consultation at 510-444-6555.