Appeals Court Reverses Workers’ Compensation Denial
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing companies to allow employees to work from home, there is some confusion about workers’ compensation. Some employers may be under the impression that because employees are working away from the office, workers’ compensation benefits no longer apply. They would be wrong. When a person is injured while performing their work duties, regardless of location, they are eligible to receive benefits.
There was some confusion about this by the New York Workers’ Compensation Board. A man who was injured while working from home had his claim denied because it was determined that his injuries were not work-related. The man took his case to an appeals court and got the decision overturned.
The man, a claims examiner, was working from home. He had boxes of office furniture delivered to his home for work use. He suffered injuries while carrying these boxes.
Both a workers’ compensation law judge and the New York Workers’ Compensation Board denied the man’s claim, claiming that they were “not sufficiently work-related.” The man disagreed and filed an appeal in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York.
As a point of reference, the appeals court looked at several similar cases of workers who were injured while working from home. The court asked the New York Workers’ Compensation Board to determine whether the man was engaged in a personal activity that was not work-related while he was moving the boxes.
The appeals court also told the New York Workers’ Compensation Board to consider that a short break from a work routine does not result in a sufficient interruption that would be enough to deny benefits.
A New York appeals court ultimately overturned the denial and considered the claim to be compensable.
Are Telecommuters Covered Under Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits are not solely available to employees who work onsite. Telecommuters are covered under their employers’ workers’ compensation policies. The general rule is that an injury or illness is eligible for compensation if it arises out of and in the course of employment. Location is not a factor.
However, employees must be able to prove that the injury is work-related. They must show that they were acting in the employer’s interest when the injury happened. It is often interpreted that when an employee’s home is also their work location, the hazards are the same in both situations. Employers are responsible for providing telecommuters with a safe work environment, such as ergonomic chairs, even if they have no control of the employee’s work conditions.
Contact Us for More Information About Workers’ Compensation Benefits
It can be hard to determine whether or not a person is engaging in workplace duties when they are working from home. Many of these cases get denied the first time around and should be appealed.
White Plains workers’ compensation lawyer Michael Lawrence Varon can help you with your workers’ compensation claim. Make sure you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call (914) 228-1770 or fill out the online form for a free consultation.