Since the arrival of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to the United States, more and more Americans have found themselves working from home in order to curb the spread of this unprecedented pandemic. The shifting requirements of the contemporary workplace have forced employers and employees alike to make swift adjustments. The situation is evolving so rapidly that the long-accepted solutions to even the most basic employment concerns may no longer apply, and workers’ compensation is no exception. Soon enough, you may find yourself asking, “What do I do if I get injured while working from home?”
Illinois Workers’ Compensation in the Traditional Workplace
The Illinois workers’ compensation system requires employers and/or their insurance carriers to pay certain benefits to their employees for injuries and illnesses they sustain during the course and scope of their employment. While there are a number of benefits that an injured worker might receive, the most common include:
- Payment for reasonable, related medical bills;
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) payments, usually equal to two-thirds of the average weekly wage; and
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits, which are intended to compensate for the permanent nature of injuries, if applicable.
In certain circumstances, claimants could be eligible for additional forms of compensation, including vocational training, wage differential benefits, and maintenance benefits, among others.
In Illinois, workers’ compensation is “no fault,” meaning that you do not need to prove that your employer, a co-employee, or anyone else was responsible for your work injury. As long as you were hurt while performing the duties of your job, you should be covered.
However, that does not mean that any injury or illness you sustain during working hours is compensable. For example, you likely would not be eligible for benefits if you were hurt while:
- Engaging in activities that do not fall under the list of your standard job duties, such as games, pranks, fighting, wrestling, or other forms of horseplay;
- Away from the workplace, provided that your employer did not order you to be at a different location for your job; or
- Traveling or commuting to and from work, unless by traveling you were engaged in activities that were part of your employment.
In situations like these, you probably would be considered to have been acting outside of the course and scope of your employment, resulting in a denial of any related workers’ compensation claim.
When the “Workplace” Is Your Home
In a traditional working environment, where employees are performing assigned tasks at a designated office or site and are under more direct supervision, “on the job” and “off the job” are much easier to define, which could make workers’ compensation claims considerably less complicated.
But what if you, like millions of other Americans, are now working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic? Would you still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you get hurt or fall ill when you are performing the duties of your job at your “workplace,” even if your workplace is your kitchen table?
If your employer has ordered you to work from home, the protections and benefits extended to you as a worker injured during the course and scope of your employment should also extend to your home. Remember, injuries and dangerous exposures can occur at and around the home, just as they do in the traditional workplace.
That being said, while you might enjoy the same rights when working from home as you do in the traditional workplace, you could also be subject to the same restrictions. If you deviate from performing the duties of your job in order to obtain a personal benefit that does not further the business of your employer, then any injury you sustain during this period of deviation would likely not be covered, since it would fall outside of the course and scope of your employment.
It is also important to note that if you get injured on the job, whether at the office or at home, you are required to report the injury to your employer within 45 days of the accident. If you fail to report an accident to your employer as soon as possible, you may lose all of the rights and benefits to which you would otherwise be entitled under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
Working from Home or on the Frontlines, GWC Is Here for You
At GWC Injury Lawyers LLC, we know these are difficult times for all Americans, with the coronavirus outbreak disrupting virtually every aspect of our lives, medically, personally, and professionally.
But whether you are working from home or on the frontlines of this terrible pandemic, rest assured that GWC is here for you. It is our goal to continue to be available, reliable, and responsive to your needs. It is this steadfast commitment to our clients that has made GWC one of the premier Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury law firms in Illinois, with more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts or settlements.
If you have been hurt while performing the duties of your job, contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.