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Workers' Comp for At Home Injuries - Update

December 01, 2020

On July 31, 2020, we posted a link on our website (https://www.alexdell.com/news/90/Workers-Comp-Working-at-Home/) to an article written by Alex Dell and Edward Obertubbesing that was published in the New York Bar Journal (https://nysba.org/workers-comp-and-working-at-home/) on the topic of Workers’ Comp and Working at Home.

One of the cases that we discussed in that article was Matrix Absence, a case where an employee who worked full-time from home was injured while moving furniture in his home office. The employer had not provided the furniture nor paid for it but had provided the injured worker with the computer equipment necessary to perform his work at home. The Board denied compensability of the claim, finding that injuries to employees working from home should be limited to those which occur during the employee’s regular work hours and while the employee is actually performing his or her employment duties.

The injured worker in Matrix Absence challenged the Board’s decision, and in a recent decision of the State of New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, the Board’s decision was reversed. The Court was critical of the heightened standard that the Board had applied in Matrix Absence. The Court stated that there is no requirement that the underlying activity at home be done at the employer’s direction or even directly benefit the employer in order for the resulting injury to be compensable. The Court rejected the Board’s rigid standard for employees working from home where the Board had tried to limit the liability of an employer to only those injuries occurring during regular work hours while the employee is actively engaged in work duties. The Court reminded the Board that a regular pattern of work at home renders the employee’s residence a place of employment just as much as any traditional workplace maintained by the employer. The Court directed the Board to re-examine its decision in Matrix Absence, instructing the Board that it if the act of moving furniture acquired for work use was sufficiently work-related, the employee’s injuries should be found compensable.

With many employees continuing to work at home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, this recent Court decision is a good reminder that injuries sustained while working at home may very well be covered under the Workers’ Compensation Law. If you or someone you know is working from home and sustains an injury that may be related to that employment, representation by an attorney skilled in the Workers’ Compensation Law can help you or that person navigate the system and ensure receipt of all benefits available.

For over 25 years, The Law Firm of Alex Dell, PLLC has represented injured and disabled individuals throughout New York State with their New York State Workers’ Compensation, New York State disability Retirement, Social Security Disability and Veterans Administration claims. That representation is now provided in Florida as well.

Should you have any questions about how best to pursue a Workers’ Compensation claim, call 1-866-965-2667 for a free consultation. We are here to help you.