Advances in technology, the pandemic, and changes in workplace practices have all contributed to an increase in employees working remotely or telecommuting. In 2022, about one-third of employed people in the U.S. worked from home on an average day, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says.
Remote workers who are performing well may be out of sight and out of mind for management until an employee is injured and seeks workers’ compensation benefits. Employees who are eligible for workers’ compensation after a workplace accident may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits while performing remote work.
A remote worker who gets push back from their employer or an insurance carrier when seeking workers’ compensation benefits for a job-related injury should speak with a workers’ compensation attorney. If you qualify for benefits under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, workers’ compensation should cover your medical expenses and about two-thirds of your wages while you are out of work. If you are permanently disabled, you may be eligible for additional benefits.
If you are a remote worker injured while performing your job duties, the Raleigh workers’ compensation attorneys at Hardison & Cochran are here to answer questions about workers comp for remote employees in North Carolina. Our law firm can help you seek all of the workers’ compensation coverage available.
Call us today toll-free at (800) 434-8399 or through our online contact form. We offer a free consultation.
What Counts As A Work-Related Injury at Home?
North Carolina’s state-administered workers’ compensation insurance program covers most people who are employed in the state. Workers’ compensation law makes medical benefits and partial payment of lost wages available for work-related injuries that occur in the course of employment. A workplace injury is temporarily disabling if the employee cannot earn the wages they were receiving at the time of injury.
Whether an injury qualifies for workers’ compensation depends on the worker’s status as an employee, and how the accident is related to work duties. Independent contractors are not covered by workers’ compensation. However, some employers misclassify employees as independent contractors to try to avoid paying benefits.
Gusto, a third-party benefits administrator for businesses, says about workers’ comp requirements for remote employees, in order for an insurance company to cover an illness or injury, there are certain requirements. First, the incident must have occurred while the employee was conducting work-related activities. Second, the incident must have occurred during work hours.”
Types of Injuries Covered for Remote Workers
North Carolina law requires most employers with three or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Any disabling injury suffered by a remote worker while they were on the job should qualify for workers’ compensation. Here are examples of remote-work accidents that should and should not qualify:
Let’s say an employee who works from home leaves their desk during the workday for a cup of coffee. While on the steps, they slip, fall, and break their ankle. This would be an injury typically covered by workers’ compensation because they were taking a break for personal comfort reasons during the course of the workday.
However, if an employee decides to water their flowers on their lunch break and suffers a trip and fall injury while dragging the hose across the yard, the individual is unlikely to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Watering flowers isn’t related to the job — even though it happened during the course of the workday. It’s unlikely to fall under the personal comfort doctrine. Therefore, it’s unlikely this incident would be covered under workers’ compensation.
How To Prove a Work-Related Injury in a Remote Setting?
If you are hurt in an accident while working from home, the first few steps you take can help to document the timing of the accident, how the injury happened, and the fact that you were working:
- Call for help from an ambulance, family member, or friend. A cell phone call will bear a time stamp, which will show when you requested help. Leave a message if no one answers.
- Report the injury to your supervisor as soon as possible if you have been hurt in a work-related accident and what happened. Calling, texting, or emailing them will record when you reported the accident.
- Note any files you have open and/or have recently saved on a computer, any recent calls, or other aspects of your work that will provide a date and time stamp to show you were engaged in work activities at the time of your accident.
- If practical, take photos of the accident scene to show where you were when you were injured and what you were doing. Get photos of any tools or equipment involved in the accident or your injury. All digital photo files have time stamps.
As an injured worker, you should seek medical care promptly if you do not require an ambulance or emergency treatment. A work-related injury is the basis of a workers’ compensation claim. Tell the doctor you were performing your job when the injury occurred. You will need a medical diagnosis of the injury, and you need to follow the doctor’s instructions you receive for ongoing care, including keeping all follow-up medical appointments.
Any failure to follow doctor’s orders will provide a reason for an employer or insurance company to question your workers’ compensation claim.
An employee qualifies for workers’ comp after they have missed seven days of work due to their work-related injury. To initiate a workers’ compensation claim, tell your employer in writing what has happened to you. Your employer should file a claim for you. Ask about the status of your claim.
If your employer does not cooperate with you, you can submit the North Carolina Industrial Commission Form 18, which is the initial document required for a claim. You should contact a North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney about a claim that may require a fight for benefits.
Contact Our N.C. Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
The Raleigh workers’ compensation attorneys at Hardison & Cochran are strong advocates for injured workers, including remote workers who are having difficulty obtaining benefits for medical bills and lost wages. We understand North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law and will work to establish your right to workers’ comp benefits after an injury occurs. We can press your claim for workers’ compensation for remote employees for your work-related injury. If you have a workers’ compensation case, you need a qualified lawyer who focuses on this area of law.
The initial consultation with Hardison & Cochran is completely free. We do not charge a legal fee unless we recover work-from-home workers’ compensation benefits for you. Contact us today to get straight answers about your workers’ compensation claim. Phone us toll-free at (800) 434-8399 or fill out our online contact form. You’ll get a response within 24 hours.