Due to the pandemic, an increasing number of employers opened up the opportunity for employees to telecommute or work from home. This surge in remote working was a result of protective measures being put in place to allow employees to continue working while avoiding the dangers of COVID-19. However, with that, a new problem emerged.
Workers were still experiencing injuries and illnesses outside of the office, and the question presented itself as to whether or not they could claim workers' compensation while working from home.
Some employers have tried to skirt responsibility by claiming that they have no control over the safety of a remote workspace; however, courts have generally found this defense irrelevant. If employers were to be responsible for the safety in an office setting, they should then be found responsible for the safety of a work setting that they have allowed within the employee’s home.
Compensability Under VA Workers' Compensation Law
In Virginia, workers' compensation benefits are available for workers who suffer an injury due to their employment, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This means that if an employee suffers an injury while performing tasks related to their job duties—even if they are working remotely—they may be eligible for workers' comp benefits in Virginia. However, before filing a claim for a work-from-home injury in Virginia, it is important to speak with an experienced workers' comp attorney to ensure that all legal requirements have been met.
What You Have to Prove
To be a compensable work accident, your claim must pass two tests. First, the injury must occur in the course of your employment. Second, the accident must arise out of the employment. “In Virginia, we employ the ‘actual risk’ test to determine whether an injury ‘arises out of’ the employment. Hill City Trucking, Inc. v. Christian, 238 Va. 735, 739 (1989). “Consequently, an accident arises out of the employment when it is apparent to a rational mind, under all attending circumstances, that a casual connection exists between the conditions under which the work is required to be performed and the resulting injury.” Lipsey v. Case, 248 Va. 59, 61 (1994).
Not Surprisingly, creative lawyers sometimes disagree on whether a certain accident arises out of the employment. Just because a claim has been denied by the adjuster for the insurance company does not mean your claim is not valid.
While this may seem simple to prove, employers and insurance companies will still attempt to challenge claims for working-from-home injuries. If your claim is denied, it is vital to speak with an experienced Virginia workers' comp attorney in order to get the compensation you deserve.
Reinhardt | Harper | Davis is Committed to Protecting Injured Workers
If you or a loved one have suffered an injury while working from home, do not hesitate to reach out to Reinhardt | Harper | Davis for a free initial consultation. Contact us at (804) 294-2966 or fill out our form online to begin your path toward justice.