Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people working from home has dramatically increased. This has led to questions about the laws protecting remote workers in Georgia. Many workers wonder if the same laws apply to them when they are working from home as when they are in the office. If you get hurt while working from home, for instance, are you covered by workers’ compensation insurance? The answer is: it depends.
The first question to ask is are you an employee or an independent contractor? Your classification as a worker is critical when determining if you are covered by workers’ comp. While employees in Georgia are generally covered by workers’ compensation insurance, most independent contractors are not. These rules remain the same when applied to a work-from-home scenario. Ask your employer about your status if you are not sure. Consult with an employment lawyer if you believe you have been misclassified. Some employers misclassify employees as freelancers for tax breaks.
If you are an employee of a company while working from home, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy should cover your bills if you get injured in the course and scope of employment. As long as you were performing a task related to your job, workers’ comp will cover your injuries, even if the incident occurred in your own home. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system, meaning that you will be eligible for coverage regardless of whether negligence played a role in your injury.
If you are working from home as an independent contractor or freelancer, however, your work-related injury typically won’t be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Most independent contractors in Georgia do not qualify for workers’ compensation, even if they are injured in the course of their jobs. There is an exception, however, if your employer has specifically purchased workers’ comp insurance for independent contractors. Again, if you believe that you have been misclassified by your employer, an attorney may be able to help you fight for workers’ comp benefits.
Even if you are legally eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia, they can be difficult to obtain if you are injured while working from home. Your claim may encounter challenges, such as proving that you were acting within the scope of your employment at the time of your injury. Since many remote workers are not directly supervised while working from home, it can be difficult to prove when the injury took place. Your employer or an insurance company may try to argue that the injury happened while you were off-duty.
You may need to gather evidence to support your workers’ comp claim, especially if you receive a claim denial. During the appeal of the denial – or if the insurance company requires more information from you for a case investigation – you may need to provide evidence such as a detailed description of the accident, your timecard or login information proving when you clocked in and clocked out, screenshots of your computer screen, eyewitness statements, letters from your doctor, medical records, photographs of your injuries, and a letter from your employer.
You can strengthen your workers’ comp insurance claim by going to a hospital in Atlanta immediately for medical care after your accident. Request copies of all of your medical records. Report the injury to your employer as soon as possible and ask for a letter confirming that you were working at the time that your injury occurred. If you encounter obstacles while attempting to obtain workers’ comp insurance benefits as a remote worker, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer for assistance. Workers’ comp cases involving telecommuting can be complicated.
Hilley & Frieder can handle all aspects of you case virtually from interview through conclusion. We are open and available to help you. Please view our complete COVID-19 statement to learn more about the steps we are taking to ensure that your case continues to move smoothly in this environment.