Work Injuries At Home
Many people began working from home due to the Covid Pandemic, but companies soon began to realize the cost savings by keeping at least part of their work force remote, or rotating in office staff. The lower square footage of office space, lower utilities and even the employees’ own lower cost of gas and travel make this a likely permanent fixture in many work places for the foreseeable future. But what does this mean for workers’ compensation claims?
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act applies to any injury sustained “in the course of employment and related thereto.” What this means may vary from case to case, but as a general rule an injury that occurs on company time, company property, and / OR in the course of conducting the employer’s business would be a covered injury. Working from home, or any other ‘remote’ location presents special fact patterns which must be evaluated on a case by case basis. These scenarios often involve multi-tasking both work-related and non-work related events. For example, tripping over toys in the driveway while walking to the mailbox where your ‘business’ mail is now received; falling over the family dog or cat while grabbing a 2 minute coffee break; or when rushing back to your computer room when you hear the ‘ding’ of a video meeting starting. Many situations I ‘could have’ typed in this short list of scenarios involve a non-work incident occurring while you were working at home, which could have happened at any time – but DID happen while you were working. Every situation will be decided based on numerous factors in addition to the incident itself. Among these other factors include the frequency you work at home; whether it was mandated or a choice; how much time were you at or away from work at the moment of the inuring incident etc, etc. On the bright side, just about every workers compensation judge is now or has at some point during the Pandemic worked from home, giving them a greater appreciation of the issues at-home workers face. Two years ago many of these cases might not be considered seriously by even the most seasoned workers’ Compensation attorney, but are now viewed in the same light as any injury occurring right on the employer’s premises.
If you have suffered a work injury at home, you need a skilled attorney to present the case to the Court, to establish it is covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act. For a free, no obligation consultation, call the Certified Work Injury specialists at Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias.