Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Remote work injuries

Navigating workers’ compensation in the digital age

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many employees around Wisconsin transitioned from a traditional office setting to working remotely from home. Since then, new questions have been raised by workers regarding which at-home injuries might be covered under the Worker’s Compensation Act.

The short answer is that most at-home injuries suffered during an employee’s job duties are covered under the Worker’s Compensation Act. However, workers’ compensation insurers can be quick to deny at-home injury claims.

Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Fundamentals

There are five elements to a workers’ compensation claim in Wisconsin:

  • the existence of an employer-employee relationship;
  • a physical or mental injury;
  • the injury occurred in the course of the worker’s employment;
  • the injury arose out of worker’s employment; and
  • the injury was not self-inflicted.

Regardless of whether you are working at your employer’s office or building, traveling for work, or working from home or other remote office, meeting the above-listed criteria may qualify you to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

At-home Worker’s Compensation Claims are Likely to Face Increased Scrutiny

Injuries that occur while working remotely usually face additional scrutiny by the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier. You must thoroughly report and record the specific facts of your injury to maximize their chances of an approved claim.

Best Practices: Steps to Take If You Are Injured on the Job

  • Seek medical help promptly and let your healthcare provider know you were working at the time of the accident so they classify the claim under worker’s compensation for medical billing purposes;
  • Clearly document the accident with photos and doctor notes;
  • Immediately contact your employer. Provide details as soon as you can;
  • Make sure the employer contacts the workers’ compensation insurer to initiate the claim process; and
  • Cooperate with your employer’s insurance company, answer their questions. You should receive a notice regarding approved or denied benefits.

Does Your Injury Need to be Directly Connected to your Job Duties?

The short answer is yes. That said, you are still in the course of employment when you are taking short breaks to use the restroom, grabbing a drink or snack to bring back to your at-home workstation, or any other brief action you take for “personal comfort.”

What Worker’s Comp Doesn’t Cover

You are not in the course of employment if you get injured while deviating from your job duties. In the context of working from home, some hypothetical deviations include:

  • leaving your desk to go play with your young child;
  • taking a short break to help your school-aged child with remote-learning;
  • getting intoxicated while still on the clock; and
  • getting in a motor vehicle accident while running a personal errand.

Your Worker’s Compensation Claim Depends Heavily on Factual Context

Finally, whether your workers’ compensation insurer denies your claim for lack of evidence, delayed reporting, or a claim that you were deviating from your job duties, it is important to keep in mind that denials are highly fact-intensive. No two cases are the same, and if a deviation can be linked with the furtherance of an employer’s interests or the employee’s immediate personal comfort, then the courts are likely to find the employee was in the course of their employment.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

The Royal Purple encourages readers to voice their opinions via the online comments section. Comments may be monitored for appropriateness and viewer safety. If a comment is harassing, threatening or inappropriate in nature, it may be taken down with editor's discretion.
All Royal Purple Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *