How to receive workers’ compensation if a workplace injury is partially or fully your fault
From when you were a child, you were likely brought up to accept responsibility for your actions. Now that you’re an adult, having a sense of personal responsibility is a desirable trait and a sign of maturity.
There are some times, however, when you may need to take a step back and accept that some situations require several parties to accept responsibility. For example, when accidents happen at work, knowing what to do is important for helping you to get the right kind of help.
The belief that you can’t get workers’ compensation if you accidentally caused your own work injury is a persistent and harmful myth.
Workers’ compensation cases work differently than other types of personal injuries. In most situations, your employer is liable for providing compensation for injuries that you sustain on the job, regardless of who or what caused the accident.
Can I claim injury at work if it was my own fault?
Workers’ compensation is based upon a no-fault system. This system assumes that you have the right to work in an environment that protects you from injuries. In fact, the minimum requirement for filing a workers’ compensation claim is that you need to have sustained your injury while performing your job duties.
Many accidents involve multiple factors that sometimes make it hard to determine exactly what contributed to the injury. For example, you might have started your work shift already exhausted from working long hours the day before. Add that on to the possibility that you were also dealing with stress from a recent change at work, and you have the perfect storm of events that can lead up to an accident.
Workers sometimes make mistakes when they are tired, such as forgetting to slow down as they walk through a wet zone. Forgetting to put a safety guard in place as you work with heavy equipment is another time when you might feel personally responsible for an accident.
However, don’t be fooled into not filing a workers’ compensation claim simply because you blame yourself for the accident. Most workplace injuries and accidents are covered by workers’ compensation in Georgia, regardless of whether or not the hurt worker contributed to their own injury.
When might my injuries NOT be covered?
If you’ve been injured on the job, then you should know about several of the most common reasons why a workers’ compensation claim can be denied. For example, accidents that occur from gross negligence or misconduct might be denied.
An example of this might be if you had several alcoholic beverages at lunch and crashed a company vehicle. Using heavy-duty equipment improperly despite having an abundance of training could also raise concerns about gross misconduct. This is why you’ll typically be asked to complete a drug and alcohol screening when you suffer an injury.
However, you may still be entitled to some workers’ compensation benefits even if you were under the influence while on the job. Every factor involved in your case must be considered before a final decision on a settlement is made. Many work-related injuries occur with gray areas that are hard to define under existing laws, which is why it’s important to seek representation from an experienced attorney who can skillfully argue your case.
What if my injury falls in a gray area?
When you want to seek workers’ compensation for an injury that was partially or fully your fault, you might feel like you’re in the wrong and ineligible for benefits when that’s not true.
For instance, an employee who had a drink or 2 at lunch might still be able to get workers’ compensation if they can show that something other than alcohol caused the accident. For example, if another employee dropped a heavy object on the first employee’s foot, compensation may be owed since their injury is unrelated to their intoxication. Even if the injured employee had not had a drink, they may have still been injured in an accident.
These legal gray areas often complicate cases since the employer may try to make it seem as though the alcohol was the main contributing factor.
Accidents caused by an employee falling asleep on the job also tend to fall within this legal gray area. Your employer may try to claim that you shouldn’t have taken on your job duties in a sleep-deprived state. A court might view it otherwise if you’ve been working too many hours or were pressured to go to work that day.
The best way to protect your rights is to leave these gray areas to the people who handle them best. Our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers have dealt with these complicated situations before, and we know the right questions to ask to find out if your employer or someone else could also be at fault for your injury.
Don’t waste time wallowing in self-blame. Instead, initiate the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim by notifying your employer of the incident and seeking medical attention. Then, reach out to a workers’ compensation lawyer at Gerber & Holder Law who knows how to help you analyze what happened and put together a reasonable claim.