Can I Get Worker’s Comp If Injured While Working from Home?

man injures back working from homeWith more employees working remotely these days, telecommuters may be wondering whether they will be covered by worker’s compensation if they get injured at home. A claim will need to meet certain standards, but you may be eligible for benefits if the injury is work-related. However, it can be more challenging to prove you suffered an injury while working from home.

Below, we discuss this issue in greater detail. If you need help getting worker’s compensation benefits, Sigman Janssen is here to help. Our law firm has a proven track record recovering millions of dollars on behalf of our clients, including compensation for injured workers. It costs nothing to learn more about your rights in an initial consultation. We also charge no upfront fees if you use our services.

Injuries Covered by Worker’s Compensation

In Wisconsin, an employer is liable when an employee suffers an injury that arises out of and during the course of his or her employment. This means that if you are injured while working remotely, your employer could be held liable under that provision.

An employee, however, who deviates from his or her working duties to perform a task or activity for a personal or private reason, will generally not receive worker’s compensation benefits. There is a greater burden of proof to show that you were performing services related to your job when injured.

Injuries that occur while working from home are also far more difficult to prove because there are often no other witnesses present. Many claims that should be covered end up being denied.

That is why it is important that you document what happened (take photos of the accident scene and your injuries), report the injury to your employer as soon as possible and seek prompt medical care.

It is also in your best interest to have an experienced lawyer by your side through the claims process. Here are several factors a lawyer is likely to review to determine your eligibility for benefits.

Location of the Injury

It is important that you have a designated workplace to perform your work duties at home. If you use a computer all day, you should have a desk in a certain area where you typically work. Having this set up may make it less likely to have your claim dismissed.

For instance, you may be able to receive benefits if you suffer a back injury while at your work desk or if your computer power cord causes an electrical shock. However, you may face challenges if injured while sitting on the couch without sufficient back support or if you trip and fall in a different area of the house away from your work desk.

Time the Injury Occurred

Your employer may require that you maintain certain work hours or even log in or out of work. Your claim may proceed without delay if you can prove that your injury occurred while you were logged in.

For instance, say you must work a maximum of eight hours a day with a one-hour lunch break between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. If you get injured outside of your normal hours of operation, you will not be covered. This also applies if you work your hours anytime during the day but are injured at night.

Tasks Being Performed

Worker’s comp only applies to injuries that occur while performing job-related tasks or activities. You will need to prove that the any task you were performing at the time of the injury was related to your work. Otherwise, your employer may argue that you were injured while performing personal tasks.

Adhering to the Policy

Employers understand injuries can happen on the job site and even while working from home. Wisconsin developed telecommuting guidelines to help assist employers in managing employees working remotely. If your employer has a strict policy for telecommuters, the ability to obtain benefits will likely be reduced if you suffer an injury while violating company rules.

Permission from Employer

Your employer must have given you explicit permission to work from home. You may have difficulty getting an injury covered by worker’s comp if your employer specifically told you not to perform any job-related tasks remotely. This applies if your work is inherently risky and requires strict supervision.

Get Answers to Your Legal Questions

Worker’s comp claims for injuries while telecommuting or working remotely can be more challenging to pursue than claims for on-site work injuries. For help getting the benefits you need, reach out to an Oshkosh worker’s compensation attorney from our firm today. We are prepared to work hard on your behalf to properly assess the circumstances of your injury and help prove your claim.

Our initial consultations are 100 percent free and completely confidential. There is no risk in calling us to find out how we may be able to help you and no obligation to move forward if you have a valid claim.

Sigman Janssen. Decades of Experience. Ph: (877) 888-5201

Do Weather-Related Injuries Qualify for Worker’s Compensation Benefits?

working in the cold weather and getting injuredFor some workers, cold weather only affects them during their commute to the office and when traveling back home again. However, for those who work outdoors in the winter (construction workers, first responders, utility workers, delivery drivers, etc.), cold weather is an ever-present part of their day. The clothes they wear need to keep them warm for hours at a time, not just for those few minutes it takes to walk from the car into an indoor workplace.

Working in the cold puts you at risk for a wide variety of injuries, some of which might be life-threatening. It is only natural to wonder if these injuries are covered by Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation system.

Below, learn more about worker’s compensation eligibility, including for injuries that are caused by exposure to cold weather.

Jobs That Put Workers at Risk During the Colder Months

There are many jobs essential to our society that require people to spend long hours outside, exposed to the elements. This includes, but is certainly not limited to:

  • Commercial and residential construction workers
  • Utility workers
  • First responders (police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians)
  • Snow cleanup crews
  • Delivery drivers
  • Airport employees
  • Farmers and agricultural workers

While we need people working in these industries, they are putting themselves at great risk.

Worker’s Compensation Eligibility

The important thing to remember is that it often does not matter what or who caused the injury. If you were doing your job and got hurt, you may be eligible for worker’s compensation, including coverage of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses and wage loss benefits, even if the injury was your fault.

However, it is important to note worker’s compensation insurance companies and employers are always looking for a reason to get out of providing benefits. They may claim you suffered a cold-related injury because of a preexisting medical condition, such as high blood pressure, hypothyroidism or diabetes.

If you are confronted with this issue, you should strongly consider meeting with one of our licensed worker’s compensation attorneys in Green Bay to learn more about your potential legal options.

Cold Weather Injuries and Illnesses

Some common injuries/illnesses people are at risk for when working outdoors in the cold include:

Cold Stress

When a person suffers cold stress, his or her body is struggling to maintain its normal temperature. Victims often shiver because blood is rushing to the chest and abdomen and away from the extremities. Treating this condition often involves wrapping the person in a warm blanket or putting him or her next to a radiant heat source.

Hypothermia

When a person has abnormally low body temperature, he or she may exhibit these common symptoms associated with hypothermia, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Slurring words
  • Loss of coordination
  • Blue skin
  • Shallow breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat

If this goes untreated, the victim is likely to become unconscious and the injury could be fatal. This condition is treated by removing wet clothing and shoes and socks and covering the body with layers of blankets or towels to try to restore the body’s usual temperature.

Frostnip/Frostbite

Frostnip is not permanent, while frostbite is. Frostnip occurs when there is mild freezing of the top layers of the skin. Frostbite happens when the skin freezes, causing ice crystals to form between cells. Your toes, fingers, cheeks and nose are particularly prone to frostbite. Common signs of frostbite include numbness, tingling, aching and bluish skin. 

Fortunately, you may recover from a mild case of frostbite if you act quickly. For example, get inside quickly, put the affected area in warm water, and remove any clothing that could restrict circulation.

Trench/Immersion Foot

If you are in the cold for a long period of time (between three and 12 hours), you may suffer trench/immersion foot. The loss of heat causes blood vessels to constrict and shuts down circulation to the feet. The lack of oxygen may cause skin cells to die.

Those suffering from trench/immersion foot may experience:

  • Numbness
  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • Ulcers
  • Leg cramps
  • Bleeding under the skin

If any of these symptoms present themselves, dry your feet by removing socks and shoes.

Protecting Yourself From the Cold

There are many steps workers can take to protect themselves from cold weather. For example, wearing layers of cold-weather clothing helps to retain body heat and keep water away. Wool, silk and many synthetic fabrics keep their insulating properties even when wet.

Having extra clothing on hand can also be beneficial, just in case the clothes you have on become too wet or cold.

Another practical tip people may not think of is to stay hydrated and consume enough calories to keep your energy up. If you are wearing heavy, protective clothing, you are likely going to need 10 to 15 percent more calories than those working indoors or in warmer climates.

Call Today for Help With Your Worker’s Comp Claim

Sigman Janssen has helped many workers’ recover benefits after suffering a workplace injury over the years. If you have any questions concerning your rights as an injured employee in Wisconsin and eligibility for benefits, give us a call today. The initial consultation is 100 percent free of charge and comes with no obligation to take legal action. We do not get paid unless you get paid.

We are here to help. Learn more by calling (877) 888-5201.

Can I Get Worker’s Comp Benefits If My Injury Was Self-Inflicted?

worker harming themselves by accidentIf you have been injured on the job, you may be able to get worker’s comp benefits to help cover reasonable medical expenses and disability/wage loss while in recovery. But what happens when a worker causes his or her own injuries? In certain cases, these injuries could still be covered under the Wisconsin worker’s compensation system.

Our legal team at Sigman Janssen has helped many injured workers obtain the benefits they need. Our initial consultations are completely free and come with no risk or obligation to have us represent you.

Worker’s Compensation is a No-Fault System

Wisconsin worker’s compensation is a no-fault system, which means you could recover benefits for a job-related injury regardless of who was at fault. Employees injured during the course and scope of their employment are typically covered by their employer’s worker’s compensation insurance.

However, some employees may be concerned about not being able to qualify for worker’s comp benefits if their injury was self-inflicted.

Under Wisconsin law, a self-inflicted injury may be covered if it was accidental and not intentional. Intentional means that the injury was inflicted with the mindset of causing self-harm. Intentionally inflicting harm is generally not considered within the scope of employment and therefore, non-compensable. However, an employer must prove that the injury was intentional when it occurred.

Self-Inflicted Injuries Due to a Mistake or General Negligence

Sometimes an employee injures himself or herself by accident. Accidents can happen in any type of work. This does not mean an employee cannot obtain worker’s comp benefits because he or she contributed to the accident. Injuries due to an error or mistake could still be covered by worker’s compensation system. This includes general negligence, such as an employee being ignorant of proper safety protocols.

If your employer or his or her insurance company tries to use your fault as a reason to deny your worker’s comp claim, having an experienced lawyer on your side would be beneficial. He or she can help you gather the evidence needed to show that your injury occurred at work, even if it was your fault. 

Self-Inflicted Injuries Due to Misconduct or Gross Negligence

An employee will have a harder time obtaining worker’s comp benefits if he or she was injured due to misconduct or gross negligence. In other words, incidents caused by acting against company policy.

This may include:

  • Working while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Blatantly not following safety regulations
  • Purposely misusing dangerous machinery or equipment
  • Fighting or otherwise engaging in horseplay

If your misconduct is deemed outside of your work duties, any resulting injuries may not be covered.

Injuries Covered by Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation

Worker’s comp covers most job-related injuries. The Wisconsin worker’s compensation system defines an injury as being any physical or mental harm resulting from a workplace accident or occupational disease. This can include damage to artificial limbs as well as dental damage.

Examples of physical harm could be broken bones, fractures, crushing injuries, burns, full or partial paralyses and disfigurement. Examples of mental harm could be a nervous disorder, traumatic neurosis and hysteria. If the injury is mental without physical trauma, you and your lawyer will need to prove that it was caused by something more than stress and tensions experienced by employees each day.

What if a Self-Inflicted Injury Results in Death?

If an employee willfully inflicted self-harm and it results in death, his or her employer will not be liable to pay death benefits to the family. Self-inflicted injuries, including suicide in extreme cases, are incidents generally considered not in the scope of employment.

However, the family of a deceased employee may be compensated if a chain of causation can be proven between the injury and the act that resulted in death. A job-related injury must have dominated the employee’s mind to make it devoid of normal judgement and cause the act to happen.

For example, an employee injured in an industrial accident had pain so severe death was the only relief possible. A preexisting injury that was made worse by the job may also lead to self-harm.

Set Up a Free Initial Consultation Today

To learn if you have a valid claim, set up a free initial consultation with a licensed Appleton worker’s compensation lawyer from our firm today. We are available anytime to guide you through the worker’s compensation process to help you recover the benefits you need.

There is no risk in calling us to learn more about your rights and no obligation to move forward after meeting with us. We do not receive payment for our legal services unless you obtain a recovery.

Sigman Janssen. A Firm You Can Trust. Ph: (877) 888-5201