The stay-at-home orders that resulted from the novel coronavirus pandemic have required courts to address how to handle injuries for America’s nonessential work force while they work from home. Typically, with few exceptions, a work injury in “the course and scope of employment” will be covered under the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. There are established principles in different jurisdictions that may give us insight as to how the courts will apply this concept of employment from home to the pandemic stay at home orders and how courts will likely find based on precedent.
Established jurisprudence looks to the primary critical question, was the injury work related? This inquiry carries with it a multitude of factors, including whether the employer intended/approved the activity, whether the injured worker was required to participate in the activity when injured, and whether any benefit arose to the employer for the activity causing the injury. It is clear that the questions surrounding the analysis are fact driven, and dependent on the specific jurisdiction’s rules for assessing each claim.