Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system designed to assist employees who have been injured on the job, without the need for a lawsuit. Under this system, injured employees don’t have to prove a whole lot to be eligible for compensation. This is in contrast to traditional personal injury lawsuits, which require the victim to prove negligence.
If you’re worried that your injury may not be covered by workers’ compensation, then rest assured, it probably is. However, there are some exceptions and special circumstances that may disqualify you from coverage. It’s best to know what they are before they happen:
- The injury wasn’t work-related. Workers’ compensation only covers work-related injuries, which means injuries sustained on the job or while performing job-related duties. If your job includes a lot of travel, or if your workplace isn’t at a fixed location, that can change the definition of “work-related.” However, it generally excludes anything that happens before you start working and after you’ve stopped working for the day, like your commute.
- The injury resulted from violence. If you get into a fight at work, worker’s compensation may not cover injuries you sustain as a result, especially if you instigated the fight. However, even victims of assault often have trouble claiming workers’ compensation if the assault wasn’t clearly work-related. For example, if you’re attacked at work by your ex-spouse, workers’ compensation probably won’t cover you. And if a coworker attacks you over a personal dispute, you may still have trouble establishing that your injuries were work-related. Your employer does, however, have an obligation to provide a safe work environment.
- The injury resulted from reckless behavior. While technically a no-fault system, workers’ compensation isn’t guaranteed to cover you in some extreme cases. Employees who willfully violate safety rules, such as proper use of protective equipment, may have their claim rejected. Likewise, some employees who were injured while engaging in horseplay have been denied coverage, although this practice is controversial and some courts have ruled in favor of employees.
- The injury resulted from drug or alcohol use. Intoxication is a common cause of workplace injuries, and one that the employee is responsible for preventing. However, the employer must be able to prove that the intoxication was a cause of the injury, not simply that the employee was drunk or using drugs. This may be difficult, especially if the drug test isn’t performed immediately after the incident.
While workers’ compensation is supposed to simplify the process, it’s not always easy to know if your injury is work-related or not. Employers don’t make it easier, either. No matter where you are in the process, we can help you with your workers’ compensation claim. Katherine is an experienced attorney and advocate for workers, and she’d love to help you, too. Schedule a free consultation by phone, email, or even text message today!