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Potential Florida Workers’ Comp Issues During COVID

home workers' compensation claim

What Are the Laws Regarding a Home Injury Workers’ Compensation Claim

Over the past year, the pandemic has accelerated the move for employees to work remotely from their homes. Working from one’s house or apartment has therefore become a much more viable option with technological advancements that have made communicating with co-workers accessible and easy through tools like Zoom. The large number of people who are working from their residences however raises the issue of how work-related accidents (at home) will be handled within the Florida Workers’ Compensation System. Employees that are injured while working remotely might have to file a workers’ compensation claim. Due to this current crisis, people who have been injured in work-related accidents at home will benefit from consulting with Evan M. Ostfeld, Esquire, an experienced Coral Springs Workers Compensation Lawyer who has been practicing almost exclusively in this complicate area since 1993.

Burden Of Proof Issues

When telecommuting employees are injured, they will have the burden to show that their accident happened while in the course and scope of their job. This means that the worker must present evidence that he or she was furthering the employer’s interest at the time of such event.  If not, they might not have a valid a Florida Workers’ Compensation Claim. Since many employees may work at home alone, it may be difficult proving the circumstances of what actually happened.

Compensable Accidents

For example, if an employee returns to his or her work after walking away for reasons like using the restroom or going on a break, they’d still be covered under what’s legally called “the personal comfort doctrine” since the activity was only a slight deviation from work. For example in a traditional office setting, an employee who burns himself when getting a cup of hot coffee would likely still be eligible for Florida Workers Compensation Benefits since doing so is considered within the scope and course of his job. Contrast that someone leaving the office to visit a Starbucks 5 miles away and is involved in an automobile accident. Sometimes however there is a fine line on the same type of “work” activity simply based on if it happened at the workplace, home or outside of the job entirely.

Dog Days?

In Sedgwick CMS v. Valcourt-Williams, (2019), an adjuster who was working from home was walking away from her desk reaching for a coffee cup and tripped over her dog during the work day. The company denied the case but the Judge held that since she was working at the time, the injury was covered. The company filed an appeal and the First District Court reversed the initial judge’s decision. The appellate judges held that the relevant risk for the employee tripping over her own dog while getting a coffee cup existed whether she was working at home or whether she was at home but not working. In essence, the same risk (tripping over one’s own dog) existed before the adjuster started to work and it will continue to exist after her employment ends (so long as she maintains a home with a dog). Since the dog had nothing to do with the company itself, the risk of tripping over it, did not arise out of the course and scope of employment. Consequently, the injured employee must be denied Florida Workers Compensation Benefits.

Am I Eligible for a Home Injury Workers’ Compensation Claim

This case demonstrates the difficulty of securing Florida Workers’ Compensation Benefits while working from home. As such, employees who are injured while telecommuting may want to get help from an experienced Coral Springs Workers Compensation Attorney at the Law Offices of Evan M. Ostfeld, P.A. We have more than 27 years of experience, and have handled thousands of cases, fighting for the rights of people who have been injured on the job. Our Florida Workers Compensation Law Firm offers a free, no-obligation case evaluation. In fact, there are
no attorney’s fees and costs unless this a court award or settlement. If you or a loved one is dealing with a Florida Workers Compensation Accident, contact us today at (866) I SUE YOU, (478-3968), (954) 227-7529, (954) 998-0075 text or evan@attorney4life.com. Our legal team is here to help!

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