An employee who contributed to the cause of his workplace injury is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Just as it isn’t necessary to prove the employer was negligent, workers’ comp laws do not bar the employee from coverage if the slip and fall accident is entirely his fault.
There are a few exceptions. If actions that result in an injury are intentional (actions that have a high probability of causing injury, or exhibit a wanton disregard of probable consequences), a work accident claim may be denied. While each case is unique, questions of coverage denial normally arise in fraud cases, or when a worker purposely does something he knows is unsafe.
Example: Waiter disregards Wet Floor sign
Alex worked as a server at a local restaurant. His duties included taking customers’ orders, transferring them to the kitchen, and serving food to the customers. Alex was working his way through college and used his tip money to pay his expenses. He knew that he could increase his tips by serving more customers, so he worked as fast as possible.
The restaurant was very busy one evening when another server unintentionally dropped a tray, spilling water and soda on the floor. The supervisor had a kitchen worker promptly mop up the spill, but the area was still slick. The supervisor also placed several “Caution” signs in the area. Workers had been instructed during training never to walk through an area where a Wet Floor sign was posted.
The slick area blocked Alex’s quickest path to his designated serving area. He had to walk entirely around the restaurant to get to his tables. Alex decided getting to his customers was more important than the risk the slick area posed. Ignoring the signs and his training, Alex hurried through the slick area, fell and broke his right leg.
Despite disregarding his training, the signs, and his common sense, Alex was still entitled to full workers’ compensation benefits. His actions did not rise to a level necessary to deny him coverage. Alex’s intention was to get to his customers, not to slip and fall. Alex didn’t believe he would slip, or he wouldn’t have disregarded the signs and walked through the area.
If Alex’s intention was to disregard the signs knowing he would be injured, or if he deliberately took advantage of the spill and purposely slipped and fell so he could collect benefits, his work accident claim would likely be denied.
Information from Injury Claim Coach
Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice. Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.