Most residents in North Carolina know that they can get workers’ compensation when they are injured or become sick while on the job. However, many people are confused or unsure if they can file for workers’ compensation if they were injured while working from home. This has become a growing curiosity as many Americans have been working from home for the past few years and continue to do so.
North Carolina requires all companies and employers with three or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This law covers employees who work at physical, in-person job sites as well as employees who work remotely from their homes. So yes – you can seek workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured while working remotely, but it could be a challenge to do so on your own. Our work injury lawyers in Charlotte can help.
How do I prove that a work-from-home injury actually happened while working?
An employee who works from home may have a much more difficult time proving that they suffered an injury from doing a task that was work-related than an in-person employee would. Unfortunately, there are no coworkers or security cameras around that could have seen your accident. However, it is important that you do not give up or become discouraged. Instead, follow these key steps to help you prove that you were injured while working from home:
- Gather any details you can about how your injury occurred: You may want to take photographs or record where the injury occurred in your home. You should also write down as much information about the injury as you can, such as where it happened, how it happened, and the time it happened. This can help prove that your injury occurred during working hours.
- Let your employer know about the injury: Make sure you verbally tell your employer about your injury, and provide a written statement as well. Save a copy of the written statement for your claim.
- Ensure that you were performing a work-related task for your employer when you became injured: Making a sandwich on your lunch break is not a work-related task. You will need to show proof that your employer gave you directions, asked you to do something, or approved a specific task that you were doing when you became injured. If you use a time tracking tool for your job, we can use the data recorded by that software to show the injury occurred during working hours.
- Seek medical treatment from a licensed physician immediately: It is very important that you see a doctor after becoming injured. You not only need proper medical attention to begin recovering, but you also need to prove that you went to a doctor for your injury. Failure to seek medical attention can lead to your claim being denied.
- Save all information regarding your medical treatment: If your doctor gives you any documents about your condition, keep that information. You should also hang on to receipts and prescriptions that the doctor or pharmacy provides.
- Get in touch with one of our workers’ compensation lawyers: Our attorneys know exactly what to do when it comes to proving injuries for workers’ compensation claims. We have been through this process many times before with other clients, and your chances of being approved may increase with legal assistance.
What are common work-from-home/remote work injuries?
Just like at physical job sites, employees can be injured in various ways while working from home. They can slip and fall while walking to their copy machine or printer, or they can experience repetitive strain injuries from constantly typing or writing all day. Many work-from-home employees also commonly experience back and eye pain as they spend a lot of time sitting at their desks, looking at a computer. Other injuries can include:
- Eye and vision issues
- Back or spinal cord injuries
- Sprains and strains (muscles, joints, and tendons)
- Rotator cuff tears
- Spinal/neck disk compression
- Burn or electrocution injuries
- Broken bones
- Animal attacks/bites
- Increased headaches/migraines
A quick note about “safe working environments”
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) mandates that employers provide a safe working environment for their employees, equipped with the tools and equipment they need. But what happens when that environment is your living room? If you suffer back injuries or spinal compression from a bad office chair, do they need to buy you a new one?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the rules still apply to remote workers, but how they are implemented can be a little vague. North Carolina, for example, does not require employers to purchase ergonomic office chairs for remote workers (nor reimburse those who make the purchases out of their own pocket). But it is worth noting that one out of every six jobs is remote, which means employers may be facing a wave of workers’ compensation claims for remote workers in the coming months and years.
In short, we need the laws to catch up with the reality of the workforce in America today. A safe workplace is a safe workplace, whether it’s in a brick-and-mortar building or your own home office.
What to do if your workers’ compensation claim is denied by your employer
It is not uncommon for employers to deny workers’ compensation claims. Know that you are entitled to these benefits by North Carolina law, and Price, Petho & Associates will do everything in our power to stand up for your rights. We have helped many employees across the state get the compensation they need and deserve, and we will gladly help you do this as well. Our team will work with you to collect the information and evidence needed to prove that your injury occurred while doing your job-related duties at home, such as:
- Photographs or video footage (such as video conferencing footage)
- Software tracking data
- Medical records
- Doctor testimonies
How much workers’ compensation can I receive?
The amount of workers’ compensation that you may receive depends on a variety of factors. Every person’s case and circumstances are unique and different. Generally, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical care and expenses, including travel expenses related to care, prescriptions, co-pays, and more.
- Lost wages at the rate of two-thirds of your average weekly wages for up to 500 weeks, depending on the type and severity of your injury, and how long you will need to recover.
- Compensation for any permanent injuries, based on North Carolina’s schedule of injury benefits.
- Vocational rehabilitation to help you return to the workforce if you cannot resume your prior position.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Price, Petho & Associates have been helping North Carolinians with their workers’ compensation claims since 1979. We are committed to each client’s case, and we do everything we can to achieve the best outcome possible. Our team understands how difficult workers’ compensation claims can be, which is why we offer personalized, one-on-one guidance to help you seek the benefits you are entitled to receive. Call our office in Charlotte, Rockingham, or Rutherfordton, or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.
Attorney Doug Petho is the owner and founder of Price, Petho & Associates. His primary focus is the litigation of plaintiff’s personal injury suits, and he has successfully tried hundreds of cases to jury verdict involving car accidents, trucking accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and fall accidents, and work-related accidents. Contact his office in Charlotte today.