Where and how we work has changed over the course of the last two years with many employees transitioning to either working full or part time from home. Originally a health and safety measure, both employees and employers have discovered the advantages of this new work model. As a result, it is continuing to be practiced even as the pandemic wanes. In fact, it is estimated that 25-percent of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022, with remote opportunities continuing to increase into 2023.
After being thrust into the world of remote working, we have learned how to hold meetings via the internet and how to collaboratively work on documents while in separate locations, but have you considered what happens if you are injured while working from home? Can you still apply for workers compensation? The answer depends on the circumstances of the injury.
If you are injured within an office building, regardless of the cause and including while on break, workers are entitled to receive medical benefits and compensation due to Arizona’s no-fault system. In a situation where you are working from home, this is more of a gray area as employers do not have control over the environment in which you are working and additionally, there are typically no witnesses to corroborate your story. Generally, however, so long as the injury can be demonstrated to be within the course and scope of employment, it will be covered. For example, if your employer requests that you retrieve a box of work files that are upstairs and you fall while coming down the stairs carrying the box, this would more than likely be considered within the scope of work.
The majority of remote claims involve slip and falls and cumulative injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or back pain, that evolve from poor ergonomics. Because remote employees are not driving to and from locations, car accidents, or what is referred to as the Going and Coming Rule, doesn’t usually apply. However, another legal concept that does hold credence in the context of remote work is the Personal Comfort Doctrine. This principal refers to those activities that are necessary for continued comfort of an individual such as using the restroom, eating, drinking and even smoking. It infers that the course of employment includes such activities. For example, if you are about to join a departmental Zoom meeting that you know will be in session for an hour or more, and you quickly go to the restroom to ensure your personal comfort, but slip and fall in the process, your injury would be deemed to have arisen out of employment.
If you are considering a Workers’ Compensation claim, it is beneficial to have the experience of a qualified lawyer to ensure the proper handling of the claim with the knowledge that can lead to a successful result. Call Schiffman Law today at (602) 638-2864 to schedule a consultation