Employees in North Carolina expect workers’ compensation benefits to pay for any injuries they receive due to an “accident” while on the job. However, are “injuries by accident” still covered if you are at fault for the accident that caused your work injury requiring surgery? Fortunately, fault does not matter. Fault, or negligence, is not a factor in whether your injury by accident is covered by workers’ comp.
Blame the victim
It could be in your employer’s best interest to blame you. It means that they could pass the responsibility of paying for the injury to you. However, many workers point to their supervisors, asserting that lack of supervision or training put them in this position. But these arguments are all irrelevant, because fault on the part of the injured worker does not matter.
The no-fault system benefits both sides
If you endure slip-and-fall injuries, burns or auto accidents as part of your employment, even if they result in a significant work injury requiring surgery and may be career-ending, workers’ compensation law does not care if it was your fault. Even if your accidental injury happened due to poor planning, lack of supervision, or failure to wear safety gear, you could still qualify for benefits.
When workers’ comp will not step in
However, if you used drugs or drank alcohol to excess, to be point of intoxication, there is a good chance that your workers’ compensation case will be denied for that reason, and that benefits will not be available. If the “intoxication” caused your accident or your injury, then the case will be denied. Getting into a physical altercation at work that results in your being injured might produce the same result. The difference here is whether your actions were “negligent” or “intentional.” Both getting drunk and starting a fight are intentional acts that lead to injury. Your employer has to show that your alleged misconduct put you at risk of suffering the injury, and the claim (and benefits) can be denied even if it ends your career.