You probably do. The workers’ compensation system covers many people who are telecommuting, either permanently or temporarily due to the COVID pandemic. To fully understand your rights under workers’ comp, you should schedule a meeting with a lawyer. Below, we dive deeper into the key considerations which determine whether you are covered.
Are You a Freelancer/Independent Contractor?
Many freelancers work from home. Maybe you write articles for websites or are a social media influencer. Other independent contractors consult for clients or provide administrative services remotely for many clients. If you aren’t a W-2 wage employee, then you probably are a 1099 independent contractor.
In Vermont, you might be covered if you are an independent contractor—but you might not be. We need to take a closer look at the work you do.
Does Your Employer Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Vermont requires that almost all employers carry insurance. If so, then you should be covered as an employee. There are some narrow exceptions if a business obtains permission to self-insure. But virtually all businesses with at least one employee should purchase insurance.
Were You Injured While Working?
The fact that you were injured at home doesn’t mean any injury is covered. Instead, we will need to look at tasks you were performing when you were injured. For example, you might develop carpal tunnel syndrome from all the typing you do for your job. That type of injury is usually covered by workers’ comp.
By contrast, if you bake cupcakes to take to your child’s school and burn yourself in the process, you weren’t working. True, you might have been burned on a workday. But the question is whether your injury arose out of and in the course of your employment. That’s the test. Baking cupcakes for a personal reason isn’t a work-related task for most people.
There are gray areas. For example, you might meet with clients in your home office. After a blizzard, you go outside to shovel the walkway into the house. If you slip and fall, injuring yourself, you might file for workers’ compensation benefits. An insurer could argue injury doesn’t “arise out of” work because you are essentially shoveling your home walkway for your own benefit. But your lawyer could argue that shoveling the walk was a necessary part of doing your job. We recommend consulting with an attorney to review.
Are There Challenges to Getting Workers’ Comp as an At-Home Worker?
Possibly. Because you were injured at home, an insurer might question the cause of your injury. They could be fishing for reasons to deny a claim and allege you weren’t injured while working.
When injured at home, you might lack helpful evidence to establish the source of your injury. For example, you probably don’t have a coworker at home, so there are no eyewitnesses. There is also probably no surveillance video in your home.
Contact Our Vermont Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
Work-from-home claims raise some interesting factual issues, and we are happy to meet to discuss how to build a claim. Contact us today to schedule a convenient time to meet.