Do workers lose benefits if they are to blame for their injuries?

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2023 | Workers' Compensation |

California workers are employed in thousands of different careers, ranging from food preparation to construction and medical support. Every industry is associated with unique risk factors that influence worker safety and company profitability. As a result, employees in virtually every industry are entitled to workers’ comp benefits in the event that they sustain work-related harm.

Worker injuries can keep individuals from earning their wages and can prove expensive for employers in some cases, as they may need to provide benefits for those workers or accommodate them when they can finally return to work after an initial injury. Frequently, workers hurt on the job worry that they don’t actually qualify for benefits because of their circumstances. For example, many people claim that those who are at fault for their own injuries do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Is it true that fault can influence a worker’s rights to secure or keep receiving benefits?

Most of the time, fault does not matter

The good news for injured employees in California is that the workers’ compensation program provides no-fault coverage. A worker neither needs to have evidence that the company was at fault for their injuries nor do they need to prove that they had no role in the incident. Workers’ compensation applies to fluke accidents and product failures, as well as to situations where workers make mistakes and get hurt on the job as a result. Whether a worker tripped over an untied shoelace or made a timing error on a production line, their unintentional contributory fault to the workplace incident that left them hurt will typically play no role in their workers’ compensation claim.

However, there are a few exceptions to the no-fault coverage rules. The best-known is likely a situation in which a worker is under the influence of drugs or alcohol on the job. If an employer can show that a worker was intoxicated and that their intoxication caused their injury, the worker’s eligibility for benefits could be at risk. There are also cases where employers can show that a worker either violated company policy or injured themselves on purpose which result in a worker losing their benefits. Finally, situations in which workers do not comply with medical instructions and therefore do not improve during treatment might result in them losing benefits.

Workers often find that they are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits even when a coworker or a supervisor at their job tries to tell them otherwise. Learning more about the rules for workers’ compensation benefits in California may help those dealing with medical issues to accurately determine whether they are in a position to file a claim.


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