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Court Decision Opens Door for More Workers’ Compensation Claims

New York Court Decision Opens the Door For More Workers’ Compensation Claims For Those Working Remotely

A New York appellate court recently issued a ruling that affects strict compensability standards set forth last year by the New York Workers’ Compensation Board.

In a lengthy opinion dated October 22, 2020, the 3rd Judicial Department of the Supreme Court Appellate Division criticized the “rigid new standard” set by the board when they denied a claim made by an injured worker while carrying office furniture at home during his lunch break. The board initially stated that workplace injuries are not compensable when they happen outside of the working hours, and outside of the work duties.

The recent opinion could lead to more claims from those working remotely since the definition of being injured during working hours seems to have been changed.

In Capraro v. Matrix Absence Management, Christopher Capraro was hired to work remotely as a claims examiner. He was provided with a computer by his employer, but no desk or chair. He purchased office furniture, which came in boxes. He carried the boxes up the stairs to his home office on June 13, 2016, during his lunch break.

In May 2019, the Workers’ Compensation Board affirmed a judge’s ruling that Capraro’s injury did not stem from his employment. The New York appellate court reversed this ruling in mid-October 2020.

When Does Workers’ Compensation Apply?

Workers’ comp is insurance. It pays benefits to workers who get injured or disabled “on-the-job.”

Once an employee is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, the employee then is prohibited from suing his employer. Although, if there is a non-employer who was negligent, the employee may be able to sue a third party for additional damages.

Am I Covered by Workers’ Compensation If I Am Working From Home?

The decision in Capraro might, according to some lawyers, change the landscape when it comes to workers’ compensation claims for people who work from home.

The number of employees working remotely is higher than ever before and has been since the Covid-19 pandemic began. For many companies, large and small, these work-from-home arrangements are unprecedented. Employers across the country have had to scramble to rewrite policies and procedures that ensure they comply with employment and other laws designed to protect workers.

The previous standard of the Workers’ Compensation Board was that only injuries that occur ‘during regular work hours and while the employee is actively engaged in work duties instead of, for example, taking a short break or using the bathroom’ could be compensated.

This standard appears to have been altered by the appellate court in the Caparo case. Your injuries at home might fall under workers’ compensation even if you are not actively engaging in real work duties and are on your lunch break.

This ruling might pave the way for workers’ compensation injury claims previously thought to be non-compensable. According to one lawyer, “With this holding, there is a stronger likelihood that employees sustaining injuries while working from home, even while not actively engaged in their true work activities, may have a compensable workers’ compensation claim.”

Will it also change the criteria for filing lawsuits against employers for negligence or other civil actions? Will standards of reasonable care change with so many employees working from home?

Call Our Brooklyn Workers’ Comp Lawyers If you Are Injured While Working From Home.

If you have been working from home and have been injured while performing work or even during your lunch or another kind of break, you may be entitled to file a workers’ comp against your employer and may be eligible to file other claims that can help you collect damages for your injuries.

Call our Brooklyn workers’ compensation lawyers at Levine and Wiss, PLLC, to schedule a free consultation. We can help you pursue a course of action to obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries.

Call us today at 888-GOT-HURT (888-468-4878) and let us help you get the compensation that you deserve and are entitled to by law.

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