Can I Get Workers' Comp If I'm at Fault?

Posted By Katz Leidman Grossman Wolfe & Freund || 27-Oct-2016

While there are dozens of dangerous occupations, workers can get injured in any type of job. Some of the more dangerous occupations include working as a logger, a fisherman, or as a cab driver, but being a policeman is dangerous, and believe it or not, so is being a social worker or a nurse.

Before we had workers’ compensation laws to protect employees who are injured in workplace accidents and because of occupational diseases, injured workers would have to file a lawsuit against their employer and prove to the court that their employer was somehow negligent. This was no easy feat indeed, especially when a low or average income worker couldn’t afford attorney fees because they couldn’t work!

As you can imagine, the old way of filing a civil lawsuit ultimately benefited the employer and not the injured or sickened employee because most employees were dissuaded by the time and expense involved.

As injured workers and their families were devastated by these weak laws, legislatures took notice and decided to enact workers’ compensation laws. But, who did these workers’ compensation laws protect? Lawmakers found a way for them to benefit employers, while benefiting employees at the same time – the new way of doing things did not discriminate.

No One Party is at Fault

The way the workers’ compensation laws were designed, no one is at fault. This means the employer is not at fault, and the employee is not at fault. All that matters is that the employee was injured in a work-related accident, or they became sick with an occupational disease.

While this no-fault concept applies almost all of the time and in almost all cases, there are a few exceptions to the rule. An injured worker can forfeit their right to workers’ compensation benefits if their injury was a direct result of any of the following:

  • The worker was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident,
  • The worker was intentionally trying to injure themselves, for example, they were trying to commit suicide, or they were trying to get hurt so they could file a workers’ compensation claim, or
  • The employee was trying to injure someone else, but wound up getting hurt themselves.

So, if you made an innocent mistake, for example, if you forgot to use safety equipment, or if you accidentally left a piece of machinery on, or if your sleeve got caught in equipment, or if you fell from a height, or if you accidentally spilled chemicals on yourself or started an explosion, you should be in the clear.

As long as you weren’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or intentionally trying to cause physical injury to someone else or yourself at the time of the accident, you should be entitled to full workers’ compensation benefits under New York law.

To apply for workers’ compensation benefits in New York, contact Katz Leidman Grossman Wolfe & Freund today for a free case evaluation!