Can I Get Workers' Compensation if I'm at Fault?

Were you recently injured in a work-related accident in Columbia? If so, then you have plenty of company. Each year, millions of workers are injured on the job, and several thousand more are killed while they were simply trying to make a living.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in 2014, 4,821 workers were killed on the job – that’s over 13 deaths each day. According to a 2016 news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 there were:

  • 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and occupational illnesses in the private sector,
  • Among the injuries in 2015, 75% occurred in service providing industries and 17.5 percent occurred in manufacturing industries.

With nearly 3 million workplace injuries and illnesses occurring in 2015, it’s understandable why you too have suffered in a workplace accident. But, what if the accident was partially, or all of your fault? Should you forget all about filing a claim for compensation, or should you file a claim anyway and see if you get lucky and your claim gets approved?

We have good news for you: the workers’ compensation system is a “no fault” system, which means that injured workers can receive benefits regardless of their own degree of negligence or fault, with a few limited exceptions.

Will my claim be denied if I was careless?

Were you fooling around on a piece of equipment and that’s the reason why you got hurt? Did you forget to use safety equipment and that’s the reason why you fell off the roof at a jobsite? Did you spill the chemicals and accidentally inhale them and now you have persistent lung problems?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions or if something similar occurred, for example, you made a mistake and it led to your injuries, then we want you to know that it’s OK.

Mistakes happen all the time, and that is one of the reasons why workers’ compensation is a no fault system – thank goodness for that!

What exceptions could apply?

As we mentioned earlier, there are a few limited exceptions where a worker’s claim may be denied because of their own actions. These exceptions generally involve one of the following scenarios:

  • You were intentionally trying to hurt yourself (extremely rare occurrence)
  • You were intentionally trying to hurt someone else, for example, you were trying to assault a co-worker or a customer, or
  • You were under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.

That’s about it. So long as you were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or trying to hurt yourself or someone else at the time of the accident, you should be covered under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.

If you have further questions, we encourage you to contact our firm to speak with an experienced member of our legal team.

Looking for a Columbia workers’ compensation attorney? Contact the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC for a free consultation!

Categories: Workers' Compensation
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