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Can People Who Work from Home Get Workers’ Compensation?

May 16, 2022

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When many people think of workers’ compensation, they imagine workers who throw out their backs while performing strenuous manual labor or who fall off ladders and catwalks on construction sites. But all jobs carry the risk of disabling injuries, including those performed in offices, and even at home.

Working from home has become more and more commonplace as technology and internet connections have improved globally, but it became more mainstream than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rise in remote work has also meant a rise in injuries at home while working.

However, does working at home or from a coffee shop disqualify you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits because your injury didn’t occur at your workplace? This blog seeks to answer that question.

Work From Home Injuries ARE Covered Under Ohio Workers’ Compensation

Under the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s (OBWC) guidelines, workers don’t have to suffer injuries or illnesses while at their workplaces to be eligible for benefits. They only have to be injured while performing work-related duties or activities to be eligible. That means that people who get hurt while driving on company time are eligible, as are people who get injured at work-related lunch meetings, company outings, and more.

That ruling also applies to people who get hurt while working from home. However, it can be difficult to prove that an injury that occurred at home happened during or because of work-related activities.

For example, if someone tripped and injured themselves while walking from their desk to their printer, they would be eligible for workers’ compensation, but they would have to prove that their injury occurred at that specific time and because of that specific work-related task. With no co-workers, supervisors, or other witnesses around to see them fall, this can be difficult to do.

What Are Common Types of Work from Home Accidents and Injuries?

In addition to the slip and fall example above, there are many ways that workers can be injured while working from home. They include:

  • Repetitive stress injuries from non-ergonomic workstations and overuse of certain muscles, ligaments, and joints (carpal tunnel for example)
  • Back and neck injuries from unnatural postures and positions that must be held for long periods of time
  • Lifting injuries from picking up and moving office equipment or deliveries shipped to their homes by their employers or that are necessary for them to do their jobs
  • Auto accidents that occur while “on the clock,”while traveling to a job site, client meeting, or workplace function

You Must Be an Employee and Not a Contractor to Be Eligible for Benefits

To be eligible for workers’ compensation in Ohio, workers must be actual employees of the businesses that they were working for when they were injured. Many remote workers are freelance workers or contractors and therefore not eligible.

Although these workers can purchase their own workers’ compensation or disability insurance, they aren’t covered under their employers’ workers’ compensation benefits if they get hurt on the job, whether they’re on a job site or working from home.

Your Employer Must Be Based in Ohio for You to Be Eligible for Ohio’s Benefits

When it comes to receiving workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace or work-from-home injury, the state your benefits come from is the state where your employer is based—not where you work from. That means that if you work for an Ohio-based company but live in Michigan, for example, your workers’ compensation benefits would still be paid through the OBWC.

However, if the opposite is true and you live in Ohio but work for a company based in Michigan, your workers’ compensation benefits come from the state of Michigan’s workers’ compensation system.

Work-From-Home Workers’ Compensation Claims Require Experienced Legal Guidance

Getting workers’ compensation benefits is almost always a tricky process. There are so many things that can go wrong with applications, and it’s common for injured workers to be denied on their first attempts at getting benefits. Although they’re often eligible for benefits, remote workers often find it even more challenging to get the money they’re owed, and it usually comes down to a lack of witnesses and evidence.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we understand the challenges of workers’ compensation applications for both traditional and remote workers. If you were injured during the scope of your employment and job duties, whether it was on-site or at home, we want to help. Contact our Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers today for a free consultation.

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