Maybe it was just a moment of distraction at the wrong time – or maybe you were just overly fatigued after a long day. Either way, you made a mistake and you got hurt on the job.
Workers’ compensation is designed to provide relief in such situations, but does the fact that you were partly or wholly at fault for your own injuries make any difference?
Negligence versus intentional misconduct
Workers’ compensation is called a “no-fault” system. For the most part, it simply doesn’t matter if the employer was negligent or the employee was negligent – or if it was a combination of the two. Neither side has to bother trying to defend their actions.
That can change, however, if an accident can be attributed to the worker because:
- They were drunk or high while they were working and that contributed to their accident
- They were engaged in “horseplay” that had nothing to do with their job duties
- They are found to have intentionally injured themselves for some reason
In other words, simple negligence – like forgetting that you put a toolbox down on the floor and falling over it or accidentally stepping in front of a moving vehicle while directing someone around the warehouse because you forgot to look both ways – won’t hurt your claim. Intentional actions that you know (or should know) are prohibited can limit your eligibility.
It’s very important that you do not just take your employer’s word for it that you are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits based on the idea that you somehow caused the accident. Experienced legal guidance can evaluate the situation and help you learn more.