Although most workplace injuries are clear and leave little room for question about whether worker's compensation applies or not, there are many that are subjective. When a worker's compensation case is questionable, that can make it difficult to get benefits without the support of an attorney.
A worker's compensation attorney can help you prove that your injury was work related, which will help you secure your benefits. With an increase in business travelers and telecommuters, here's a look at what you need to know if you're injured on a trip or in your home office.
What Kinds of Injuries Are Usually Covered?
Injuries that occur in the workplace are typically covered by worker's compensation, provided that you can prove that your workplace or job put you at greater risk of the injury. For example, if you sprain your ankle in a field where you're running cable as part of your job duties, that injury is likely to be covered. However, if you're injured during your commute to work, that's not usually covered. In most instances, you are not considered to be on company time until you arrive at the office, and you're no longer on company time when you leave to go home.
Dealing with Injuries During Business Travel
Whether you travel on a regular basis, as is the case for outside sales representatives, or the trip is a one-time thing as part of a business meeting or other event, an injury sustained while on the road may be covered under your employer's worker's compensation policy. If the injury was sustained during activities related to your job, you have a good chance of coverage. You do have to prove, though, that you were engaged in something that was a requirement of your job.
If your trip includes free time for you to pursue personal activities, any injuries sustained during those activities would not be covered under a worker's compensation policy. That time would be treated just as your personal time at home would be. Even when you're traveling for work, you aren't on company time if you aren't actually working.
Handling Telecommuting Work Injuries
When you work from home, your risk of injuries is typically lower than the risk you'd face at work, but that doesn't mean that you're fully protected from injury. In most cases, home-based work involves working in a home office at a computer. The most common injuries that occur in these environments are repetitive motion injuries and ergonomic issues.
It's important to note, though, that like any other worker's compensation injury, it must be related to your work. You can't claim a workplace injury if you trip over your dog or fall on your front steps. If you suffer a work-related injury at home, the best thing you can do is notify your employer immediately and then call a worker's compensation attorney to help you preserve your rights and ensure that you have the evidence you need for the claim.
Since it can be hard to prove that an injury sustained at home or on the road was actually related to your job, it makes these types of injury claims more likely to be denied. Insurance companies can claim that the injury didn't happen while you were on the company's time, even if you know that it did. This makes it vital that you have as much evidence as possible, including witness statements when you can get them. A worker's compensation attorney may be able to help you gather supporting information.
It's also important to remember that every state has its own laws related to worker's compensation policies and coverage. That makes it important that you have the support of a legal professional, because he or she will know the legal requirements in your area and can negotiate with the insurance company based on legal statutes to help get you the coverage you deserve.