The words “work injury” might conjure images of construction site accidents or burns from restaurant kitchens. But office employees—even those working a sedentary desk job—can also be injured at work. And when that happens, they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
What are the most common injuries that office workers suffer?
Workers’ comp doesn’t cover common illnesses like the flu or injuries caused by something outside of the workplace, like an earthquake. Pre-existing conditions are also not covered unless you can prove that the workplace injury worsened your condition.
Office-related injuries usually covered by workers’ compensation include the following:
- Overexertion: Whether from carrying too many heavy objects or working in badly maintained environments, overexertion is a common work-related injury for office workers.
- Repetitive stress injuries: Overly repetitive movements (such as data entry) can result in inflammation, constant pain, or even permanent injury. For office workers, the most common repetitive stress injury is carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis affecting the hands and wrists.
- Eye strain: Did you know that your computer should be about 18 inches from your face, with the center of the screen 10-15 degrees below your eyes? If not, you’re risking eye strain as well as neck or shoulder pain, migraines, and headaches.
- Toxic chemicals: A poorly ventilated office can be dangerous to your health. Toxins from cleaning agents, office supplies, or old building materials can lead to numerous respiratory illnesses.
- Falls: Whether tripping over a box of cables, slipping on wet floors, or falling from a broken chair, office workers are twice as likely to experience a work-related fall as those not working in offices.
Can all office workers receive workers’ compensation benefits?
Most employees paid with a W-2 are eligible to receive workers’ compensation when injured at work, even if they mostly work at a desk. But what about other types of employees?
- Remote and hybrid workers: Even if you work entirely from home, your employer must create and maintain a safe work environment. That means injured remote workers are also eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, because workers’ compensation claims cover only work-related injuries, it may be more difficult to prove that the injury is connected to work duties rather than a personal task.
- Contractors: Workers’ compensation is usually reserved for employees receiving a W-2 tax form. But the IRS considers many 1099 contractors and freelancers to be employees, so they are eligible for workers’ compensation.
What kinds of benefits can office workers get?
Workers’ compensation will cover medical bills and rehabilitation costs and, if you can’t work, two-thirds of your average weekly pay. And you might get more if you’ve suffered a permanent injury, such as the loss of a hand.
How can office workers claim worker’s compensation benefits?
First, notify your employer that you’ve suffered a work-related injury as soon as possible. Your employer should provide you with a list of physicians approved by their workers’ compensation insurance.
Second, get medical treatment. If you require emergency care, let the medical professionals know that workers’ compensation insurance should cover your bills.
Third, document your injuries with photographs or medical records. Doing this early can make later disputes easier to manage.
Do I need a lawyer to handle my workers’ comp claim?
Even if you properly report and document your injury, your employer or their insurance company might try to prove that your injury isn’t related to your job. That’s where the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Hunter and Everage can help. We can evaluate your case and make sure that you’re treated fairly and receive any compensation you’re due for your work-related injuries.