Arrangements that allow workers in Illinois and around the country to perform some or all of their duties from home have become far more common in recent years. About one in four workers routinely worked from home in 2010 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but that figure has since risen to more than 50%. While working from home may be convenient and less stressful, it can make proving a workers’ compensation claim more difficult as there are unlikely to be any witnesses and remote workers do not usually have security cameras installed in their homes.
Furthering the business of the employer
One of the first things insurers determine when assessing workers’ compensation claims in these situations is whether or not the remote worker was furthering the business of their employer when they were injured. The courts have held that a remote worker’s residence is a business premises as long as their employer authorized them to work from home, but that does not mean that every injury suffered in the home becomes work-related. These issues were highlighted in a 2019 workers’ compensation case in Florida involving a woman who injured herself when she tripped over her dog while working from home.
A judge determined that the woman was entitled to benefits because her home was a business environment. However, the Florida First District Court of Appeal reversed the decision after determining that her injuries were not job-related because tripping over her dog was a hazard she would have faced in her home whether she was working or not.
Workers’ compensation appeals
If you are a remote worker and your workers’ compensation claim is denied, an attorney with experience in this area could seek an arbitration hearing by filing an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. If the arbitrator’s decision does not go your way, an attorney could file an appeal and advocate on your behalf before a panel of commissioners. If your injury has left you unable to work and earn a living, an attorney could petition the commission to expedite your hearing.