Does Workers' Compensation Cover Employee Negligence?
Have you been injured at work? If so, you may have plenty of questions. If you’ve arrived at our website looking for answers, we’re glad you’re here. You may wonder if you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your injury. Often, we find that injured employees are particularly worried about whether or not they can receive workers’ compensation benefits if negligence or “fault” was somehow involved in the circumstances that led to the injury. The good news is that the short answer is usually yes – you can still receive workers’ compensation even if employee negligence was a factor in the injury. Let’s take a closer look at why.
A CLOSER LOOK AT NEGLIGENCE
What is negligence? Legal terms can often be complex – but the idea of negligence is a simple one. Essentially, when someone fails to act in a reasonable manner to keep themselves or others from harm, that is negligent behavior.
Some examples of negligence in a workplace setting might include:
● An employee who fails to wear his safety helmet as required, and is struck on the head by a falling object, which causes a severe concussion.
● An employee who has been instructed to secure hazardous materials in her workspace before going on her lunch break but fails to do so, causing injury to another employee.
● An employee who operates a welding torch and has been instructed to use proper protective equipment but puts the equipment on incorrectly in haste, leading to burns and other injuries.
These are only a few examples of many, but without question, negligence does occur in the workplace, and it does cause injuries. Fortunately, for those seeking workers’ compensation benefits, negligence is not a barrier to receiving compensation, as worker’s compensation is often considered a “no-fault” system. This is very different from a personal injury lawsuit, and many people often confuse the two.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AND PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUITS – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
The law can be complex, and that’s why having a knowledgeable attorney to guide you through the process is essential. While there are a number of distinctions between personal injury lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims, perhaps the most important distinction is that personal injury claims hinge on negligence, while workers’ compensation claims do not.
Typically, a personal injury claim is a claim like a slip and fall on a premises, a medical malpractice case, or a car accident claim, in which one party caused another party’s injury by being negligent. In those cases, negligence is a crucial factor in the case. Without establishing that one party was at fault, recovery is unlikely. Worker’s compensation claims, however, are different.
As a general rule of thumb, if an employer provides workers’ compensation coverage for its employees, that coverage is for injuries that occur during the course and scope of employment – regardless of whether or not the employee’s negligence contributed to the injury. The system was intentionally designed that way – with certain important exceptions.
A LOOK AT POTENTIAL EXCEPTIONS
Although it is typically true that workers’ compensation benefits do not depend upon whether or not one party or the other was at fault, there may be exceptions to that rule. Some examples include:
● If the employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when injured; or
● The employee willfully and intentionally attempted to harm themselves or another person.
In those situations, which are fortunately somewhat rare, workers’ compensation benefits may not be available. As with any legal situation, consulting with an attorney who understands workers’ compensation law will be essential. An attorney who knows and understands workers’ compensation law will be able to listen to your story, assess your circumstances, and advise you as to what compensation you may qualify for.
RODEN LAW – YOUR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ATTORNEYS
If you’ve suffered a work-related injury, you deserve to focus on your recovery – without worrying about legal technicalities. At Roden Law, we’re here to provide the answers and to work with you to determine the best legal strategy to fight for the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. If you’re ready to take the first step toward a better and brighter chapter ahead, we’re here to help you do exactly that. Call the knowledgeable and experienced team at Roden Law today. We look forward to speaking with you soon.