Are Remote Employees Covered Under Workers Compensation?
The modern workplace is evolving. More and more companies are offering remote work opportunities, leading to a significant increase in the number of employees working from home. Based on the U.S. Census data, the population of individuals who primarily work remotely has tripled from 2019 to 2021.
This shift raises important questions about remote employees' legal rights, including: Are remote workers covered under workers' compensation?
The short answer is yes, but there's more to it than a simple affirmative.
At Slape & Howard, we're here to clarify your concerns on this pertinent topic. Contact our law firm in Wichita, Kansas, to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case. We're proud to serve workers across the state.
Can Remote Workers Receive Workers' Comp Benefits?
Absolutely. Remote workers, just like their in-office counterparts, may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits if they suffer an injury while carrying out their job duties.
It's important to note, though, that proving a work-related injury occurred at home can present more challenges compared to injuries sustained in a traditional workplace.
Employers are legally obligated to provide safe working conditions — regardless of where you're situated. To put it simply: if you're injured on the job, you're entitled to compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.
Kansas Workers Compensation Law Exceptions
Under Kansas law, a non-agricultural employer must provide workers' compensation benefits to its employees if they exceed $20,000 in revenue. So what are the exceptions to this rule?
The following employment categories are excluded from the state's workers compensation law:
Employers engaged in certain agricultural pursuits.
Realtors who qualify as independent contractors.
Firefighters who belong to a firefighter’s relief association that has waived coverage under the workers' compensation law.
Sole proprietors, LLC members, and partners. However, it's important to note that all other employees would need to be covered if the payroll is greater than $20,000.
Certain owner-operator vehicle drivers who are covered by their own occupational accident insurance policy.
So if you're a remote employee and your job doesn't align with one of the above, you should be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
We understand that any legal quandary can be confusing, and that's why we're here to help. If you have any questions or need further clarification, don't hesitate to reach out to us at Slape & Howard in Wichita, Kansas.
How Does Workers Compensation Work for Remote Employees in Kansas?
In Kansas, remote employees are generally eligible for workers comp benefits as long as they're injured within the scope and course of their employment. Suppose you develop carpal tunnel syndrome from prolonged keyboard use, for example. In that case, you could be eligible for workers' compensation, provided you can demonstrate that the injury occurred while performing work tasks.
Prompt reporting of work-related injuries is vital for remote workers. Your employer's workers comp insurance company will likely need to speak with you, obtain your medical records, and assess your claim.
Elements That Must Be Present in Your Claim
To succeed with your workers' compensation claim as a remote worker, certain elements must be present and proven as true. These include:
The injury occurred during the course and scope of employment.
The injury was caused by work-related activities or conditions.
The injury was reported to the employer within the required timeframe.
Gathering and preserving any evidence related to your work-related injury, such as medical records, witness statements, and documentation of the incident is critical. This evidence will strengthen your claim and increase your chances of receiving workers' compensation benefits.
Common Injuries Sustained by Remote Employees
Working from home has become more common, and with it comes a unique set of risks. Here are some common injuries sustained by remote employees:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This is often caused by repetitive keyboard and mouse use. Without proper ergonomic setup, prolonged periods of typing can lead to this painful condition.
Slip and Fall Accidents: These can occur anywhere, but when you're working from home, they can be considered work-related. Whether it's tripping over a power cord or slipping on a spilled drink, these accidents can result in serious injuries.
Poor Ergonomics-Related Injuries: Working from a couch or bed might seem comfortable, but poor posture and lack of proper support can lead to back pain, neck strain, and other musculoskeletal issues.
Why Skilled Representation Is Important
Securing representation from a skilled workers' compensation attorney is vital for remote employees pursuing a workers' comp claim. A seasoned attorney can navigate the intricacies of the workers' compensation system, gather necessary evidence, and champion your rights as an injured worker.
Proving work-related injuries for remote workers can be challenging given the blurred lines between work and personal life. An experienced attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence, guide you through the claims process, and ensure all paperwork is filed correctly and on time. They can also negotiate with the workers' comp insurance company on your behalf to secure a fair settlement.
Questions to Ask Your Workers Comp Attorney
When you're considering reaching out to a workers compensation lawyer, it's important to be prepared. Here are some key questions that you should ask:
Do You Charge Fees on a Contingency Basis?
Typically, workers' compensation attorneys charge fees on a contingency basis. This means you don't have to pay anything unless you win your case. It's important to confirm this before proceeding.
What Expenses Can I Expect? Apart from attorney fees, there may be other expenses associated with your case such as medical records, expert witness fees, and court costs. Make sure you have a clear understanding of these potential costs.
How Will You Help Me File My Claim? Your attorney should guide you through the entire process of filing your claim, from gathering necessary documentation to submitting the claim to the Kansas Department of Labor Workers Compensation Division.
What's the Time Limit for Filing and Appealing? There are specific time limits for filing a workers' compensation claim and for appealing a denied claim in Kansas. Your attorney can provide this crucial information.
What's the Likelihood of a Settlement? While every case is unique, your attorney may be able to give you an idea of whether your case is likely to result in a settlement based on their experience.
What Are the Next Steps? It's important to know what to expect moving forward. Your attorney should be able to outline the next steps in the process.
Get the Legal Guidance You Need at Slape & Howard
We're here to help you navigate this journey. Don't hesitate to reach out to us at Slape & Howard if you need more assistance or have additional questions. Your initial consultation is free, and we're committed to helping you understand your rights and options under Kansas's workers' compensation laws.