With record numbers of people working from home since early 2020, one unforeseen issue for remote workers is over what happens if they are injured. Are you still covered under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, or would treatment fall under your private health insurance?
While working from home is a recent development for thousands of people, the question is nothing new. People who are injured while working remotely are entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act.
Criteria for work-related injuries
People who suffer work-related injuries are covered regardless of whether the injury happens inside or outside the workplace. Proving an occupational injury is more challenging while working remotely but can typically be determined by asking these questions:
- Did the employer and the worker’s duties require them to engage in the activity that caused the injury?
- Was the employer benefitting from the employee’s actions when the injury occurred?
- Was the worker given permission to work remotely?
In a crucial ruling in 2008, an appeals court found that a Minnesota worker, who suffered a serious back injury when taking a coffee break while working at home, was covered under his employer’s workers’ comp insurance. Attorney Jackson Baehman represented the worker.
Workers’ compensation insurance benefits both parties
In many cases, courts tend to lean towards awarding workers’ comp benefits to employees in disputed cases as coverage has distinct rewards for all sides, including:
- Workers are compensated for medical costs and lost wages
- Employers are shielded from lawsuits over covered injuries
- Courts avoid high volumes of cases
Protect yourself from remote workplace injuries
People who work from home can suffer from various injuries, but the most common are caused by repetitive motion stress, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. They can also suffer back and neck injuries related to poor posture and bad ergonomics, usually from ill-fitting chairs and desks.
Employers should have workplace safety programs in place to help their employees avoid these and other types of injuries. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help determine whether an injury is work-related, assist you in filing a claim or represent you if your claim is denied.