What You Should Know About WFH and Workers’ Compensation
Whether employees work at home or in the office, workers’ compensation protects them.
The work-from-home revolution is apparently here to stay, much to the chagrin of office managers and insurance companies. Many office managers believe workers slack off at home. Insurance companies do not like WFH either, because it forces them to cover more territory. Nevertheless, three years after pandemic lockdowns ended, a third of possible remote workers still work from home, at least part-time.
Employees who work from home are still employees. They are still entitled to the same legal protections, such as wage/hour minimums and maximums, anti-discrimination, and workers’ compensation. So, a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer can still obtain compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and other economic losses when WFH employees are injured during work hours.
Most falls occur at home. Some falls are minor incidents. Most cause serious injuries, such as broken bones and head injuries. These victims usually incur substantial medical bills. An average hospital stay costs about $3,000 per day. Furthermore, these injuries are normally permanent, at least to an extent. Therefore, these victims cannot work as much.
Usually, workers’ compensation pays all reasonably necessary medical bills. Workers’ comp benefits also normally replace two-thirds of lost wages for the duration of a temporary or permanent disability.
These benefits are usually available even if a non-work condition contributed to the job injury. For example, if Tony’s bad knee contributes to his work-related fall, Tony is still entitled to full benefits.
When employees work from home, employers cannot keep a close tab on their work environments, increasing the risk of bacterial and other such infections. Nevertheless, employers are legally responsible for such on-the-job injuries. They agreed to take on this responsibility to avoid civil lawsuit liability. Now they cannot shirk this responsibility because the requirements changed.
Employers also cannot mandate breaks. In fact, they usually push employees to work through breaks, because of the aforementioned “slacking off” perception.
Computer eyestrain is a serious problem in such environments. So are carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and other repetitive motion injuries. Usually, extended rest is the only effective treatment for such injuries.
Your Claim for Damages
Most workers’ compensation claims are settled out of court, but the road to a fair settlement is often long and bumpy.
At the first review level, the denial rate is very high. Insurance company interests dominate these paper reviews. Therefore, insurance companies aren’t motivated to make favorable offers. Instead, they usually make low-ball offers. Many victims accept these offers because they just want to “get it over with.”
Things aren’t much different at the intermediate review level, which is much like instant replay review in football games. The reviewing official only overturns the initial call if that call is clearly erroneous.
The environment changes significantly at the Administrative Law Judge review level. During this review, which resembles a civil trial, attorneys can make legal arguments, challenge evidence, and introduce evidence. Attorneys also have full negotiating power at this level. The average attorney-negotiated settlement is more than three times higher than the average non-attorney-negotiated settlement.