What If My Workplace Injury Was My Fault? Can I Still Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

BY: Koszdin | Thursday, May 24, 2018.

Workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system. That means that you do not have to prove that your employer did anything wrong to get benefits. It also goes both ways—you can still get benefits even if your work injury was partially or even entirely your fault. This is great news because mistakes happen—whether you are forgetful, careless, or inattentive, workers’ compensation benefits will still be available to you. However, like everything, there are some exceptions to this general rule that you should know as an employee.

Some workers make the mistake of assuming that if they injured themselves at work, then they do not have a right to benefits. This is false! Call a workers’ compensation attorney in Los Angeles to learn more about your rights after a work accident.

The “Horseplay” Exception

Although injuries at your workplace are almost always covered by workers’ compensation, there are a few situations where your employer may be able to avoid giving you benefits. One of those situations is “horseplay.” Horseplay is also sometimes known as “skylarking” under California workers’ compensation law.

Horseplay is any situation where an employee is goofing off or messing around at work. They may be on or off the clock when the injury occurs. If the workplace injury occurs because you were messing around, your employer may not have to give you benefits. The court determines that when you are engaging in horseplay, your injury does not “arise out of your employment,” which essentially means that you were not doing your job when you were injured.

Violence and Altercations

If your injury occurred because you started a fight with a co-worker or supervisor, then you also generally will not receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, if another employee started the fight, you may still be able to get benefits.

The critical point is who “threw the first punch.” It does not matter if the other worker was insulting you verbally—if you started the physical altercation, then you likely will not be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Intentional Injuries

If you intentionally hurt yourself while at work, you likely cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits. This rule prevents workers from “staging” accidents or harming themselves in other ways just to receive benefits. Engaging in this type of action can also be considered illegal workers’ compensation fraud as well.

Termination After an Injury That You Caused

Generally, your employer is not allowed to terminate your employment just because you filed a workers’ compensation claim. However, your employer may be able to fire you for violating safety requirements or taking unnecessary risks at work. This is a fine line, and if you lost your job after a work injury, you need to speak with a lawyer.

At Koszdin, Fields & Sherry, we want to help you get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Schedule a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles workers’ comp lawyers to explore your legal rights.

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