The number of workers who telecommute has been growing. However, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a much larger number of people working from home for the first time. The 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report revealed that about four million Americans worked from home at least half of the time. However, research shows that as much as half of the American workforce began working from home in April.
This change in working conditions, even if temporarily, raises several questions. One of them relates to what would happen if an Ohio worker gets injured while working at home. Most employees would want to know if their injury or illness would still be covered by workers’ comp. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. There are some situations in which you would be able to get the usual benefits, but it’s not guaranteed. There are many factors that would come into play. An Ohio workers’ comp lawyer will help you to understand your rights.
Common Telecommuting Injuries
Most people who are working from home are sitting at a desk in front of a computer. Their injuries are, therefore, likely to be quite similar to those suffered by office workers. Common injuries include:
- Neck and back injuries. Sitting at a desk for long hours can lead to pain and dysfunction in the back and neck.
- Repetitive-strain injuries. Tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, and “mouse shoulder” are common among workers like computer programmers and writers.
- Slip and falls. Loose cords, unstable chairs, or poor lighting may cause you to slip and fall at home. As long as you were working, and not cooking or taking a shower, you may be able to get compensation.
- Lifting injuries. If you have to lift work-related equipment or supplies to and from your home or around your home, any injuries may be compensable.
- Traffic accident-related injuries. Generally, workers aren’t covered when they’re going to and from work. However, if you have to visit the office for meetings while otherwise telecommuting, your travel may be deemed job-related. If you get into an accident on the way to the office, your injuries may be compensable.
Things Your Attorney Will Discuss with You
One of the first things your workers’ compensation lawyer will seek to ascertain is whether you’re truly an employee. If you’re an independent contractor or a freelancer, you won’t be covered under a company’s workers’ comp program. The only way you would have coverage is if you purchased it through Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. In some cases, businesses classify individuals as independent contractors even though in practice, they function like employees. It’s important to be clear about your status before an injury occurs. Otherwise, you could be in for a surprise. If you’ve suffered an injury and you have concerns, you should contact a Cincinnati workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible.
Another important thing to consider is where your employer is based. You may live and work in Ohio, but the company may be based in another state. Your employer may, therefore, be following that state’s laws regarding workers’ comp eligibility. Similarly, if you live and work in another state but you work for an Ohio-based company, you’ll fall under Ohio’s laws. These issues may be spelled out in your contract. However, there’s always room for interpretation in these matters so it’s best to seek legal counsel. An Ohio attorney will only be able to help you if your employer is based in Ohio.
How You Can Get Compensation
Ordinarily, workers can only claim compensation for injuries that occur on the job while performing job-related duties. The employee must be following established workplace procedures and protocols when the injury occurs. As you’re probably aware, it can be difficult to determine when you’re working and when you’re off-duty while at home. Furthermore, your employer may have set out specific hours or locations for which you’re covered. Even if this isn’t in place, you will still need to prove you were working.
Evidence will likely include a doctor’s report and your sworn statement describing how the injury occurred. Since there are unlikely to be any impartial witnesses to the incident, the BWC and Industrial Commission will have to rely on these pieces of evidence. An attorney can help you to present a solid case.
Get Help from An Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you suffered an injury that affects your ability to work, reach out to our team of Cincinnati workers’ comp attorneys today. Whether you’re working from home or the office, you deserve compensation if your injuries are job-related. Call us to set up a consultation.