Yes. Injured Workers Are Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Regardless of Who Was At Fault.
Unfortunately, some employers will look for a reason to deny any Workers’ Compensation claim that comes their way in an attempt to keep their premiums low. Some employers are known to unlawfully contest claims on grounds that the injured worker was at fault. However, Workers’ Compensation is a “no fault” insurance program, meaning that injured employees are entitled to benefits regardless of who was at fault.
The Workers’ Compensation system actually benefits both employers and employees. When you file for Workers’ Compensation benefits, you relinquish your right to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. In exchange for giving up this right, you are entitled to receive certain guaranteed benefits, including medical benefits and lost wages. As a part of this bargain, employees are not required to prove that their employer was somehow negligent or caused their injury. In passing this law, the New Jersey Legislature intended to lessen the burden on courts that would otherwise be overwhelmed by parties litigating the question of fault. The legislature was also seeking to avoid the unfair denial of benefits to negligent workers who perform their jobs in good faith.
Therefore, employers cannot deny a claim if the employee’s own negligence or mistake caused his injury. For example, a construction worker who trips and falls on his untied bootlace while walking on the job site will still be entitled to benefits, even though his employer did not cause his injury. It is also important to note that provisions in an employment contract that state that you agree to waive your right to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits are invalid and void. If you have signed such a contract, you are still eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Exceptions To The “No Fault” Rule
There are several situations where an employee will likely not be covered by Workers’ Compensation. If your employer can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that your injury was caused by any of the following situations, you are probably not eligible to receive benefits:
- Your own intoxication
- Your use of controlled dangerous substances
- Your willful refusal to make use of a reasonable and appropriate safety device furnished by your employer
- The intentional self-infliction of injury
- Your own criminal act
- Third-party involvement unrelated to your employment.
If your employer claims that you are ineligible to receive Workers’ Compensation because you were at fault for your own injury, the experienced Monmouth County Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Shebell & Shebell can help. For a free consultation, call us at 866-957-5237 or contact us online today.