Yes, if you’re an employee who suffers an injury or develops an illness in the course of doing your job from home, you’re covered by South Carolina workers’ compensation, which almost every business with four or more employees is required to carry. You must, however, be able to convince your employer’s insurance company that your injury or illness is work-related.
Due to the development of technology and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Americans working from home has increased dramatically. Millions of U.S. workers are now telecommuters, but the idea of receiving workers’ comp benefits for an injury or illness sustained outside the workplace is not new. While most employees perform their jobs on company premises, there have always been others who work off-site. For example:
- Home healthcare workers
- Traveling salespeople
- House cleaners
- Tutors who meet with students in their homes
If any such employee sustains an injury or develops an illness in the course of performing job duties, workers’ compensation should cover:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Vocational retraining
Because workers’ comp is no-fault insurance, you don’t have to prove your boss or a co-worker was negligent in order to file a claim. You must be an employee, not an independent contractor, to qualify for benefits, and you can file your claim in the state where your employer is located. You’re eligible for benefits even if your accident was your own fault, and your employer can’t retaliate against you for filing.
Proving a Work-Related Injury or Illness
An employee who sustains an accidental injury on the company’s premises often has witnesses to confirm when, where, and how the accident occurred. The injured worker might be able to report the injury to a supervisor or visit an onsite clinic immediately. If the work environment causes the development of an occupational illness (lung damage from inhaling toxic fumes, for example), the cause of the illness can be proven with a doctor’s diagnosis and evidence of the worker’s daily exposure.
When you’re working from home, though, proving your injury or illness is work-related might be more challenging. Your employer’s insurance company could raise certain questions to determine whether you’re eligible for workers’ comp benefits:
- Was your off-site work activity officially approved by your employer?
- Were you required by your boss to do whatever you were doing when you were injured or became ill?
- Were the duties you were performing when you were hurt beneficial to your employer?
Compensable work-related injuries that might be sustained at home include:
- Repetitive-motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and spine/neck problems that result from prolonged daily computer use
- Lifting-related injuries to the spine or joints that you might suffer if you lift, move, or stack heavy items/large boxes when working at home
- Slip and fall injuries from tripping over cables, wires, boxes, or other objects when you’re in the process of doing your work from home
Your claim for any such injury will be stronger if you can show that it occurred when you were “on the clock” for your employer—not at a time outside your normal work hours. You can support your claim with:
- A detailed sworn statement of exactly how/when your injury occurred in the course and scope of performing your job
- Statements from any witnesses who saw the accident and/or evidence of your injury
- Photographs of your injury and any object(s) that caused it
- A doctor’s report confirming your injury, its possible cause(s), and the time range during which you sustained it
As a telecommuter, you could be exempt from the “coming and going” rule that normally bars claims for injuries suffered when you’re traveling to and from the workplace. If you’re hurt while traveling to an in-person meeting or picking up and delivering products, you could be covered.
How to File A Workers' Compensation Claim In South Carolina
As soon as you sustain an injury or are diagnosed with an illness resulting from your work at home, you should:
- Report your injury or illness to your employer.
- File a Form 50 (or 52 for the death of a loved one) with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC).
- See the doctor recommended by your employer’s insurer.
- Follow all doctor’s orders and keep documentation of medical treatment.
- Consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if:
- The insurance company denies your claim or fails to authorize treatment.
- You’re not receiving your benefits in a timely fashion.
- You don’t feel your doctor/medical treatment is helping you recover.
- You’re cleared to return to work before you’re ready.
- Your boss retaliates against you for filing.
Have You Been Injured On The Job In South Carolina?
If you've been hurt at your job you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.