More business is moving online, and that means more workers are able to work from the comfort of their home. So if you’re on the company dime while you’re at home, could you also be eligible for workers’ compensation in the event you suffer an acute injury or a repetitive stress injury? Today, we take a closer look at whether telecommuters can get workers’ compensation in Minnesota.
Working From Home and Workers’ Compensation
There are a lot of boxes you need to check in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation in Minnesota if you’re a telecommuter. For starters, you need to be an actual employee of the business, and not a contractor. If your employee agreement is written in such a way that you are actually a contractor, you aren’t going to be eligible for workers’ compensation.
So let’s assume you at least check that box, and you are in fact considered an employee of the business. If you are considered an employee, you are held to the same standard as employees who work on the jobsite. That means if you suffer an injury during the course of your employment while you are working from home, you are entitled to compensation.
The key phrase in that last sentence is “during the course of your employment,” and Minnesota actually requires that the injury arises directly out of your employment. Since most telecommuters aren’t performing very many physical tasks from home (after all, you can’t stock boxes in a warehouse from home!), that means your options for workers’ compensation are limited. For example, if you’re working from home and trip walking downstairs or slip in the kitchen while you’re making a cup of coffee during work hours, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be eligible for compensation. Those are not going to be injuries that arise directly out of your work duties, and therefore they won’t be eligible for compensation.
Telecommuting Injuries That Are Eligible For Compensation
Now with all that said, there are injuries that can arise directly out of your employment while you’re working from home. The most common injury that is pursued by telecommuters is carpal tunnel syndrome or another degenerative joint disease. Since most telecommuters work on a computer or work with their hands on a daily basis, it stands to reason that these joints are prone to degeneration and injury. If you’ve been working from home for years and you’ve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome or another repetitive stress injury, talk to a lawyer about your options.
Other injuries are a little more of an uphill battle, but you still might have a case. For example, a police officer recently received compensation when he was working from home when he was injured while cleaning his service weapon. Another example is if workers are asked to go outside to drum up business by going door-to-door, and you slip and fall on the pavement.
At the end of the day, it comes down to whether or not you can make a case that your injuries, while working from home, arose directly out of the course of your employment. If you have questions as to whether your injuries could be compensable, reach out to Margolis Law Firm for a case review.
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