When you file a workers’ compensation claim, you are effectively agreeing that you will not bring a claim or lawsuit against your employer for your on-the-job injury. Although it might be limiting to waive your right to sue your employer for an accident that happened on their property, the trade-off is that you should be able to get workers’ compensation benefits even if you caused your own workplace injury. In a workers’ compensation claim – unlike a personal injury claim – liability is not a factor in the vast majority of cases.
What Makes Liability Matter?
There are only a few situations in which liability for a workplace accident matter and none are expressly guaranteed to invalidate your workers’ compensation claim.
Your workers’ compensation claim might be denied due to:
- Roughhousing: You must always behave reasonably and responsibly given your work environment. For most people, roughhousing or horseplay with coworkers and others is unacceptable workplace behavior. If you were playing around with a coworker for fun and get injured because of it, then your claim will probably be denied. However, it could be difficult for the insurance company to prove that you were roughhousing when you were hurt.
- Intentional self-harm: You can also be denied workers’ compensation benefits if you intentionally tried to get injured at work. Some insurance companies like to use this reason as a fallback to deny a claim. They will try to argue that you intentionally caused your own injury in an attempt to get workers’ compensation benefits, which is an outlandish claim at best. The pain and hardship caused by a serious injury is not something anyone would trade for a reduced paycheck.
- Drug or alcohol use: In workplaces where drug and alcohol use is strictly prohibited, any accidents caused by a drunk or impaired employee could negate that employee’s chances of getting workers’ compensation benefits. A claim will get complicated, though, if an employer encourages or enables alcohol or drug use in the workplace. For example, an office might keep a keg of beer in the breakroom for “special occasions” but still allow workers to get a cup whenever they want.
- Egregious safety violation: All employers should have a company handbook that explains acceptable workplace behaviors and outlines all company safety policies. If you egregiously violate a safety policy to the point that it should have been obvious to you that it was dangerous, then the responding insurance company might try to block your workers’ compensation claim. For example, if you suffered a crush injury due to trying to climb inside a piece of heavy equipment while it is still in operation, then your claim could be challenged. It is important to note that a claim denial for such a reason is an uphill legal battle for an insurer, so you should be willing to fight it with the help of an attorney.
Need to know if your workers’ compensation claim in Orlando, Florida is valid after you might have caused your workplace injury? Dial 407-894-1480 to connect with Todd Miner Law and discuss the key details of your case with our lawyers now.