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Can I Claim Workers’ Compensation for an Injury Suffered Working Remotely?

In these unprecedented times, millions of people are now working from home because of the mandated shutdown of all non-essential businesses. Even though many people worked from home before the spread of COVID-19, there are more people than ever logged into their content management systems, company networks, and other programs remotely.

Aside from the worry that this will overload networks (students are being taught online too), many are worried about suffering an injury while working from home. Workers’ compensation benefits might not cover these injuries, as different rules may apply to different types of employees.

Independent contractors are never covered

If you are an independent contractor, you are not covered under workers’ compensation laws. Independent contractors can work for multiple employers at one time, which makes it difficult to assign an injury and file a claim against one specific business. Despite this, you need to make sure you are being classified correctly. If you tried to file and were denied and told you were classified as an independent contractor, you may have grounds for a claim because your employer likely misclassified you to avoid paying for the insurance.

Claims for injuries or illnesses suffered at home

Just because you work from home doesn’t mean that you aren’t entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if injured or sickened on the job. You have every right to file a claim, but it is your responsibility to prove that you suffered the injury or developed the illness while performing a duty related to your scope of employment. Proving something like a slip and fall injury might be a challenging claim to prove, while repetitive strain injury might be less so (especially if you type all day long).

Sandberg v. JC Penney

To prove that it is possible to acquire workers’ compensation for an injury suffered while working remotely from home, look no further than the case Sandberg v. JC Penney. Mary Sandberg was an employee of JC Penney, the department store. She filed a claim after tripping over her dog and falling while walking to her garage.

Sandberg won this claim against JC Penney for one big reason: she was a designer who worked out of a home studio. She kept all of her materials in her garage. The court ruled that since Sandberg’s home also served as her work premises, the injury she suffered came about while performing within the scope of her employment.

Sandberg’s initial claim was denied, but the court reconsidered it on an appeal. Sandberg did not have the option to work in a formal studio provided by JC Penney. She was forced to work out of her home. If she had voluntarily been working remotely from her home, it’s possible the court would have ruled differently.

Potential work-from-home injuries

Some of the potential work-from-home injuries you can suffer include:

  • Slip and fall over work items
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Injuries from a car accident (required to meet clients off-site)
  • Burns from a work computer or other device related to the job
  • Broken hand or foot from dropping or carrying boxes

Suffering an injury at home usually comes with no compensation, even if you have homeowners or renters insurance. However, in these ever-changing times, you might be eligible for Chicago workers’ compensation benefits if you were injured while completing work for your scope of employment. Call the office of Gainsberg Law P.C. at 312-600-9585 or complete our contact form to speak to one of our attorneys today.