As a resident of York, PA who works remotely, getting “injured on the job” takes on a new meaning. If you sustain an injury while working from home, you are probably wondering if you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. It is possible to obtain workers’ compensation for work-from-home (WFH) employees in PA, provided certain criteria are met.
Were you “acting in furtherance” when you were injured while working remotely?
As per the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, benefits are issued to employees who sustain injuries while “acting in furtherance of the employer’s interests.” Any employee who becomes injured while doing their job is subsequently entitled to compensation, whether they are on site or at home. For example, say an employee needs to take a job-related call, but trips on their stairs en route to the phone and falls. Because that worker was performing a job-centric task, they can file a workers’ compensation claim.
Another acting in furtherance instance concerns work-related deliveries. Say an employee receives a delivery for their job, but the box is considerably heavier than they were told. The employee picks up the box, only to strain their back and fall down from the weight of the object. They sustain multiple injuries as a result and can file for workers’ compensation.
Additional examples of acting in furtherance include:
- Dropping a laptop or other work-related equipment on your foot while changing the battery or making other adjustments.
- Delivering company products, paperwork, or equipment and getting in a car accident.
- Trying to fix an employer-provided ergonomic desk chair and sustaining injuries.
Were you tending to your “personal comfort” while working from home?
“Personal comfort” is another PA doctrine that applies to employees working from home. If an employee “briefly deviates” from work for personal comfort and wellness reasons but becomes injured, they are entitled to compensation. For example, say the employee got up to get a drink of water, use the bathroom, or put on a hoodie. They tripped and fell, resulting in several injuries. Because this worker was fulfilling a basic human need, they are eligible for workers’ comp.
One of the most well-known PA cases regarding the personal comfort doctrine is Verizon Pa. v. WCAB (Alston), 900 A.2d 440 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006). An employee working from her house for Verizon exited her home office to get a glass of water and fell down her stairs. She filed a claim petition saying that she was furthering her employer’s interests and tending to her personal comfort at the time of the injury, which made her eligible for compensation according to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Verizon argued that she was tending to her own needs when the accident occurred and was therefore not eligible for workers’ comp benefits. However, the Workers’ Compensation Judge, Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, and the Commonwealth Court found in favor of the employee, because she “briefly deviated” from her work duties at the time of the accident for personal comfort reasons and was subsequently owed compensation.
Steps to take after getting injured on the job in York, PA
Getting injured on the job, whether at home or anywhere else, is always a shock. However, it is important to be aware of PA workers’ compensation deadlines to avoid having your claim dismissed. As per Sec. 631 et seq., you have 21 days to inform your employer of your injury. The claim is “time-barred” after 120 days. You and your employer can agree on compensation as early as the 7th day after the filing or any time after according to Sec. 731. The employee also has three years to file a claim petition for benefits as per Sec. 731. Types of benefits the employee can request include:
- Wage loss Until you are able to work at your normal capacity, you can seek wage loss benefits that compensate you for your total or partial income loss.
- Health care expenses: Recovering from a serious injury can require surgery, prescription medication, lab tests, medical devices, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other costly health care services. All reasonable and necessary health care expenses related to your accident are covered under workers’ comp.
- Permanent injury: Some injuries on the job are permanent, such as loss of a leg, eye, arm, forearm, lower leg, or foot. Permanent hearing loss is another example of a permanent injury that calls for compensation.
- Death benefits: In the event of an employee’s untimely work injury-related passing, their surviving family members are eligible for death benefits. These benefits provide spouses and minor children with compensation based upon what the deceased individual was earning at the time of death, provided that the death occurs within 300 weeks of the work injury and is due to that injury.
After you have informed your employer of your injury, they must investigate the claim with their insurance company and either confirm or deny the claim within 21 days. If the claim is confirmed, payments typically equaling two-thirds of your weekly earnings begin. If the claim is denied, you must file an appeal within three years of your work injurytfor review by a workers’ comp judge. It is helpful to have an attorney represent you in the event of an appeal, as the legal professional ensures all documents are filled out correctly and on time, and provides representation in court.
Don’t take on a workers’ compensation claim on your own, no matter where your injury occurred. The team at KBG Injury Law in York, PA, are here to help you navigate your claim so you hopefully receive compensation quickly. Call our office or submit our contact form today to request a free consultation. We maintain additional offices in Lancaster, Hanover, Gettysburg, and Harrisburg.
The personal injury attorneys at KBG Injury Law are all experienced litigators. Almost all of them represented insurance companies prior to becoming advocates for injured people, which provides them with a unique perspective and insight into how these companies operate. They also offer extensive courtroom experience if going to trial is the best legal alternative for the client.