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Workers' Compensation

Injured While Working from Home? Here’s What You Need to Know

By July 19, 2021No Comments

With many people working at home, the question that often arises is whether injuries that occur while working from home are compensable under the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law. Are telecommuters covered under Workers’ Compensation? Although we are seeing more case law in this area, the specific facts of each unique situation are particularly relevant. The main point of contention is whether the accident is truly within the course of employment or of a more purely personal nature.

In Matter of Christopher Capraro vs. Matrix Absence Management, 187 A.D.3d 1395, 132 N.Y.S.3d 456, 2020 N.Y. Slip Op 06000, the Appellate Division attempts to clarify the standard of purely personal or within the course of employment. In this case, the court treats the employee’s residence as a place of employment similar to any more traditional workplace. Then, the long-established standard of workplace accidents can be utilized for an employee injured while working from home.

It is then determined whether the injury occurred during the regular work shift and was sufficiently work-related. This again will largely depend on the facts of each particular case. Capraro also clarifies that “momentary deviations” from the work routine, such as a restroom break, do not constitute an interruption in employment sufficient to bar establishment of a claim as being work-related.

Specifically in Capraro, the injured worker ordered a new chair, desk, and drawer at his own expense for his own home office. The employer told him they would not pay for it, so he went ahead and purchased it on his own. He was injured while carrying the furniture, which arrived in boxes, into his own office.

Following the injured worker’s appeal of an unfavorable Board Panel Decision, the Appellate Division found the act of moving furniture that was acquired for work is “sufficiently” work-related and not purely personal under this standard.

This particular case then helps to clarify the standard used for employees injured while working from home, with the focus being on whether the injury occurred during the regular work shift and whether any deviation to one’s regular workday was momentary and for an acceptable purpose.

If you were injured while working from home and want more information about a potential claim, contact Lewis & Lewis P.C. today at (716) 854-2100.