These days, more people than ever are working from home. While most employees who work at home spend their time in front of a computer, accidents can still lead to injuries. These injuries can be expensive, and they can make it difficult (if not impossible) to do your job.
So, if you got injured while working at home in Wisconsin, are you eligible for workers’ comp?
Employees Who Work at Home are Generally Eligible for Workers’ Comp
In general, employees who work at home are eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits when they get injured on the job. Employers cannot avoid liability for job-related injuries simply by having their employees work from home. While many work-at-home injuries result from slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents, accidents involving tools and equipment are common as well, and many employees are just as susceptible to repetitive stress injuries at home as they are in the office. As long as an injury is job-related (and an employee otherwise qualifies for benefits), it doesn’t matter where the injury occurs.
But, this does not mean that filing a successful workers’ comp claim will be easy. Among other issues, there is a good chance that your employer (or its insurance company) will question whether your injury is truly work-related. If you file a claim because you slipped and fell in the bathroom, for example, your employer (or its insurance company) may argue that you can’t prove you fell during work time. What if you fell before your workday started? What if you were taking a break from working (and not simply going to the bathroom in the middle of working)? If you can’t prove that you were “at work” when the accident happened, you will struggle to collect the benefits you deserve.
Another issue that can make it more difficult to obtain workers’ comp benefits for a work-at-home injury is that there aren’t any witnesses. When you get injured in the office or at a job site, there will often be someone there who can confirm that you got injured on the job. At the very least, you can report your injury right away; and, if you weren’t injured when you got to work, your injury report will help confirm that you did in fact get injured during the workday.
Steps You Can (and Should) Take if You Got Injured While Working at Home
With these challenges in mind, there are some important steps you should take if you have suffered a job-related injury while working from home. As soon as possible, you should:
1. Document Where and When the Accident Happened
When seeking workers’ comp for a work-at-home injury, it is important to have thorough documentation. Take photos of the location where you got injured, the issue that caused your injury (i.e. a slippery floor or dangerous tool), and the injury itself. If you take these photos with your phone, they should be accurately time-stamped. If you were working on a computer or tablet, save your work—as this will also create a timestamp that can help prove you were injured within the scope of your employment.
2. Report Your Injury to Your Employer
With work-at-home injuries, it is especially important to report your injury to your employer right away. Unnecessary delays will open up more opportunities for your employer (or its insurance company) to argue that you can’t prove that your injury is job-related.
When you report your accident, provide as much information as possible, and do not embellish any details. Stick to the facts. Make sure you have a copy of your report before you submit it to your employer.
3. See a Doctor
You will want to see a doctor as soon as possible. In Wisconsin, you are not required to see a company-approved doctor, and you should not let your employer tell you where to go for treatment. Tell your doctor exactly what happened, describe your symptoms in detail, and let your doctor know that you will be filing for workers’ compensation.
4. Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
Depending on the nature and severity of your injury, you may be able to go back to work right away, or you may need to take time off. Even if you are working from home, if your doctor says you should rest, you should rest. If you ignore your doctor’s advice, not only could it take longer for you to recover, but it could also become much more difficult to secure full workers’ comp benefits.
5. Talk to a Madison Workers’ Comp Lawyer
Given the challenges involved in obtaining benefits for a work-at-home injury, it is best to seek help from a Madison workers’ comp lawyer promptly. You can get a free initial consultation, and it costs nothing out-of-pocket to hire a lawyer to handle your claim. Your lawyer can deal with your employer (and its insurance company) on your behalf, and your lawyer can help you avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your recovery.
Are You Still Eligible for Workers’ Comp if You Could Have Prevented Your Injury?
A common question we get from individuals who suffer job-related injuries at home is whether they are still eligible for benefits if they could have prevented their injuries. For example, what if you slipped on a wet floor because you had recently taken a shower? Or, what if you were using your own tools and they weren’t in great shape?
In Wisconsin, workers’ comp is a “no fault” system. This means that employees can file claims for benefits regardless of who is at fault for their injuries (with only a few very narrow exceptions). Just as you could have filed a claim if you accidentally injured yourself at the office or on a job site, in most cases you can file a claim if you got injured at home even if the accident was due to an issue within your control.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Madison Workers’ Comp Lawyer
If you were injured working at home in Wisconsin and need to file for workers’ comp benefits, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a free consultation with a Madison workers’ comp lawyer as soon as possible, call 608-257-0440 or request an appointment online now.