It is more important than ever that all business owners carry workers’ compensation insurance (WCI). It is required in Arizona, California and in most states. If an employer does not have WCI, then the employee may sue the employer under tort law, which includes the possibility of punitive damages. On the other hand, if an employer has WCI, the employee’s remedy is against the WCI.
Chris M. Mason & Dina G. Aouad opine in their article for the Arizona Attorney Magazine earlier this year that they expect COVID-19 related claims from employees who were exposed to pathogens in the workplace to be on the rise. The Industrial Commission of Arizona announced this year that COVID-19 worker’s compensation claims cannot be denied categorically. Insurance carriers and self-insured employers were given a series of factors to review in determining whether a claim is warranted.
The other expansion of workers’ compensation claims is expected to happen due to remote working. Workers’ compensation “covers injuries arising out of and in the course of employment”. The body of case law on this is not well developed, but courts around the country have granted compensation for in-home injuries “when the employee has a specific work assignment or if there is a regular pattern of work at home”. The home then achieves the status of a “place of employment”. The employee needs to be directed by the employer to do work at home and typically courts have looked at whether the employee is working from home out of personal convenience or necessity. There is a 3-part test called the “Larson Test” that several states have adopted to analyze whether the work done from home qualifies as a “home office” and whether the injury is work related.
If a company hires a sales manager and has no office for him/her to go into, the employee is expected to work from home and their home office would be covered. If you are worried about COVID-19 and your employer allows you to work from home, that is most likely personal convenience. Of course, there are many variations of facts in between, and for a period many employees were directed to work from home during the pandemic. Thus, it is expected that there will be significant developments in this area of the law over the next couple of years.
The expansion of workers’ compensation claims due to the changes in our working environment, this past year and into the future, are something that the employer and employee will need to consider. All parties should broaden how they perceive a work-related injury.
Mason, Chris, and Dina Aouad. “Worker’s Compensation Claims Expected to Increase from COVID-19 and Remote Working.”
Arizona Attorney Magazine, no. January, 202AD, pp. 16–21, www.azattorneymag-digital.com/azattorneymag/202101.
Fendon, Matt, and Ryan Murphy. “Are Home Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation.”
Arizona Attorney Magazine, no. January, 2021, pp. 30–33, www.azattorneymag-digital.com/azattorneymag/202101.
Disclaimer – This article is for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice to anyone. If you require advice, you should reach out to our firm or another lawfirm to discuss your facts and circumstances to obtain legal advice.
Worker’s Compensation Claims Expected to Increase from COVID-19 and Remote Working
By C. Margaret Tritch