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Can an employer blame a worker for their on-the-job injury?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

An injury on the job in California can be a very frustrating experience. Workers may need to take time away from their positions, which can lead to lost wages and other career setbacks. They also have the physical consequences of an injury to address, not the least of which is the need for medical care.

Most employees know that workers’ compensation coverage can help protect them from lost wages and other significant setbacks if they get hurt on the job. However, employers often prefer to avoid large workers’ compensation claims, as those claims could potentially increase what they have to pay in premiums.

The expenses involved could create an incentive to pursue a worker’s valid claim for benefits. What happens if a company tries to blame an employee for their injuries on the job?

Fault doesn’t typically affect benefits

The good news for a worker facing accusations by an employer about causing an on-the-job injury is that they could still qualify for benefits. The rules for workers’ compensation coverage in California protect employees by extending no-fault coverage.

It doesn’t matter who is to blame for the incident. The worker is still theoretically eligible for benefits even if they made a mistake that directly led to them getting hurt. Failing to tie shoelaces or making a timing error on a production line could be enough to lead to an on-the-job injury. Even if a company has video footage of a worker making a foolish mistake, that typically is not enough to prevent the worker from qualifying for workers’ compensation coverage. Fault is typically a non-issue in a worker’s compensation claim.

Unless an employer can prove that someone was under the influence and that their intoxication caused their injury, fault is usually irrelevant. Other exceptions to the rule might include scenarios where workers overtly violated company policy of their own volition or where they hurt themselves intentionally. The burden of proof in such scenarios falls to the employer. Workers can sometimes still secure benefits even if a company tries to make allegations about their conduct.

Learning about the rules for workers’ compensation coverage can help people feel more confident about seeking benefits. Even if a worker unintentionally caused their own injury, they may still be eligible for disability and medical benefits.

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