What Are My Rights If I Am Injured Working from Home?
Covid-19 has seen more and more Australian businesses move to work from home. The sudden spike in remote working has resulted in many changes in how businesses operate. This, of course, has implications on things such as legal responsibilities and insurance coverage. Workers are entitled to compensation if injured at work, but what about injuries at the home office? The new normal may have you asking, “what are my rights if I am injured working from home?”
The Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 outlines that employees are still covered when injured while working from home. Employers are required to ensure that you have a safe working environment, even in a work-from-home situation. Queensland businesses should also have a WorkCover accident insurance policy in place.
Getting injured while working from home
According to WorkCover law, workers are entitled to compensation if they suffer an injury “arising out of or in the course of any employment”. However, the line between “course of employment” and free time can seem blurred when working from home.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many workers have had to work outside their usual hours as they try to balance home-schooling and childcare duties. This is why work from home injury claims will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the injury happened while working. For example, was the employee still logged into workplace systems and software when the injury occurred?
While working from home, the employee also has a duty of care in terms of their own workplace health and safety. It’s the responsibility of the employee to maintain a safe environment. This could include things such as…
Installing fire alarms
Maintaining electrical equipment
Repairing broken steps
Case Study: Hargreaves vs. Telstra Corporation Ltd
A famous Australian example of injury compensation while working from home is the Hargreaves vs. Telstra case. Telstra employee Dale Hargreaves slipped down the stairs twice in her home while working remotely for Telstra.
When she took legal action against Telstra, the company denied liability, as the accidents occurred away from her workstation and outside typical office hours.
However, the tribunal ruled that the injury “arose out of Ms Hargreaves’ employment with Telstra”, hence making it a workplace injury.
The first fall occurred when Hargreaves left her desk to retrieve cough medicine from the fridge. It was deemed a workplace accident, as Ms Hargreaves regularly worked late, and the break was a necessary one to ease her coughing.
The second fall occurred when she was locking her front door, as per Telstra’s instructions, after a break-in at her home. This fall was also deemed a workplace accident, as Ms Hargreaves was following a reasonable direction from her employer. Hence, the injury fell within the scope of her employment.
What about contractors and freelancers?
In Australia, contractors and freelancers are not automatically covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation policy. We recommend contractors and freelancers take out their own insurance policies to ensure they are covered in case of injury.
What to do if you get injured while working at home
If you have been injured while working from home, it’s essential to follow the usual procedures. This includes visiting a doctor to get a medical certificate, notifying your employer and lodging a WorkCover claim as soon as you can.
Are you looking for further advice on where you stand in terms of your injury while working from home? Revolution Law can help you with your workers’ compensation claim. We start off by offering free advice over the phone, followed by a coffee meeting where we further discuss your situation and fully disclose our fees. What’s more, if there’s no win, there’s no fee. Contact Revolution Law today.
Lump Sum Offer WorkCover Claim. To Accept or Reject.
Do not accept your offer until you have spoken to one of our Lawyers
There is no point taking a risk on your future when you can get free legal advice from an expert. We will explain your risks, your options and you entitlement. If it’s in your best interest, we will act. If not then we will let you know. If we further investigate your matter for you, then no matter what happens if you do accept WorkCover’s Lump Sum offer it will always be 100% yours.
Be Careful: Other law firms may take 50% of your Lump Sum Offer.
We thought that clients getting 100% of the WorkCover statutory claim lump sum offer was normal. Turn’s out that other firms charge to investigate claims even if the client doesn’t want to proceed onto a common law claim. We were appalled when a distressed man rung our firm explaining that he was going to lose half of his ump sum offer to a personal injury firm. He didn’t want to proceed with a common law claim, but faced with losing 50% of his lump sum offer he felt rapped. If had been our client we would have investigated his claim for free meaning his lump sum offer would have remained entirely his.
Degree of Permanent Impairment and Your Lump Sum Offer.
Before you get given your lump sum offer you must have an assessment for you Degree of Permanent Impairment (DPI). Your DPI will range between 0-100. Your DPI will determine you lump sum offer. If you don’t agree with your DPI then you should respond within 20 business days to appeal the assessment however you should contact our lawyers first before doing so. If you decide to ignore the DI to proceed with the Common Law claim when your employer has been negligent which contributed or caused your injury to occur then don’t stress, you can ignore the lump sum offer based on the DPI and come back to offer after the 20 days as the offer will simply defer.
WorkCover and the self insurers often make it appear that if you don’t accept the lump sum offer based on the DPI then it will expire but this is simply not the case!
Using you DPI to Calculate your Lump Sum Offer.
The maximum statutory compensation for degrees of impairment which are under 30% is $307,385. The lump sum offer for your DPI is calculated by multiplying the maximum statutory compensation by your degree of permanent impairment.
DPI of 1%: $307,385 x 1% = $3,073.85
DPI of 2%: $307,385 x 2% = $6,147.70
DPI of 3%: $307,385 x 3% = $9,221.50
The WorkCover Statutory Process
Your Three Options when Finalising Statutory Claim
DPI less then 20% accept lump sum offer and finalise your Claim (You should speak to our Lawyers before accepting)
DPI more than 20% accept lump sum offer and also run a common law claim
DPI less then 20% reject lump sum offer and run a common law claim (although there are appeal options to appeal the DPI, our Lawyers would advise whether this is suitable or whether it is better to proceed straight to the Common Law claim)
Common Law Claim Compensation Result versus Statutory Lump Sum Offer
In short, a common law claims allows you to claim compensation for other heads of damages which are not taken into account with the statutory lump sum offer.Take into consideration the matter of Mills v BHP Coal Pty Ltd (2017) from the Supreme Court of Rockhampton. Frank Mills, the Plaintiff claimed compensation for injuries that he obtained in October 2014 during his employment with the Defendant, BHP. The injuries occurred when he attempted to open a stuck butterfly valve on a vacuum pump. His injuries included damage to his cervical spine and right rotator cuff.In this matter Frank Mill’s was assessed with a 12% DPI. Should he have finalised his statutory claim by accepting the lump sum offer he would have received only $36,886.20 for his serious injuries.Instead Frank proceeded with a common law claim and consequently other heads of damages were taken into consideration. This table outlines the heads of damage which saw Frank receive a total of $1,013,131.89 gross in damages.So what are you waiting for? Book your free consultation today via the online form or by calling our office on 07 3416 4999.
Workers Win In Supreme Court Judgement On The Duty Of Care Owed By Employers
Written by Noah Mortensen
The Supreme Court of Queensland has ruled that employers owe a significant duty of care towards employees for their fatigue from working long night shifts. Despite the accident occurring far from and well after work, the Court found that employers should be providing a high standard of care towards their worker’s education.
Mr. Harold Kerle was severely injured in an accident occurring in a drive home from his working location in October 2008. Almost three hundred kilometres away from his working location and four hours after his shift ended, Kerle had a motor vehicle accident. The accident occurred as he fell asleep and crossed lanes, colliding with an oncoming vehicle. He suffered personal injury from the accident which required compensation amounting to $1,250,000.
Mr. Kerle showed that he was entitled to sue his employers for being negligent through the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, which provides for injuries caused by incidents when travelling between work and home. As the car accident was still part of his travel home from work, it was covered by the Worker’s Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003.
The Court then examined the facts Mr. Kerle and his expert advice provided. He had been given three consecutive night shifts lasting over 12 hours each, which interrupted his body’s natural rhythm. He was very fatigued as a result of his work, but was not aware of his tiredness at any point, had been a truck driver for many years, and also had a good driving record. Mr. Kerle was not allowed to refuse the shifts given to him.
Having considered all of these elements, the Court decided that the employers for Mr. Kerle owed him a duty of care, and were responsible for the injuries he suffered as a result of the motor vehicle accident. The Court stated that the employer should have provided much better training about fatigue, and its risks, and should be more responsible when giving out shifts. They could have reduced the risk to their workers by providing a bus service, or a resting period and a place to rest for their workers at the end of the shift.
Mr. Kerle’s injuries were ordered to be compensated by the Court, upholding employer’s responsibility to give their employees proper training and care.
If you have been injured while working or on your way to work, you are entitled to compensation. Contact Revolution Law’s team of professionals to discuss how to make a compensation claim for your workplace injury.
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