Can I Collect Workers' Compensation Benefits if the Accident Was My Fault?
Most workers know that they will be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured on the job. For example, if they are stocking merchandise and cut themselves with a box cutter, or if they fall from a ladder and fracture a bone, they can expect that their expenses will be covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. But what happens if an employee’s own negligence caused their work-related accident? Are they still covered?
The purpose of workers’ compensation is to provide wage, medical, and, if necessary, disability benefits to injured workers regardless of who was at fault for the accident causing the injury. This means that under most circumstances, an injured worker can expect to be covered. However, there are some circumstances in which an injured worker may not be eligible to collect benefits.
An injured worker may be denied workers’ comp benefits for the following reasons:
- The worker violated an express company safety policy. For example, if a shop worker is required by their company to wear rubber safety gloves to protect their hands, and the worker was injured because he or she neglected to wear their gloves, they may be denied benefits.
- The injury was the result of horseplay at work. For example, a worker may not receive benefits if he or she was running through the aisles of a store and playing catch with merchandise with another employee.
- The injury was self-inflicted. An employee who purposefully harmed themselves is not considered to have been injured “in the course of their duties.” However, there may be exceptions if work-related stress over a long period of time is considered to have contributed to the incident.
- The worker was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Since the vast majority of workplaces have strict workplace drug policies, a violation of these policies would render the employee ineligible for benefits if he or she is injured.
Any of the above reasons can result in a complete loss of benefits or may cause a worker’s benefits to be drastically reduced. However, because each case is different, it is crucial for injured workers to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to discuss their benefits eligibility. Many workers are surprised to find that even when an injury was partially or wholly their fault, they may still be eligible for at least some benefits. Workers’ compensation laws can be complex, so it is not advisable for injured workers to attempt to handle their own cases, as they may risk losing out on valuable benefits that they are eligible for.
A work-related injury can place significant financial stress on an injured person, potentially requiring expensive medical care and time missed from work. If you’ve been hurt and need assistance, please contact The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC to schedule a meeting with an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer. Free case evaluations are available when you call (770) 629-9321.