Say that you get injured at work, perhaps by slipping and falling when you’re on a ladder. Falls are one of the most common reasons for workplace injuries in most industries – and especially in construction, where they are one of the “Fatal Four.” Falls don’t necessarily even have to be from a ladder to cause serious harm. You could be at risk of spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and much more.
In any case, after your injury, you inform your boss that you’re going to need to file for workers’ compensation benefits. You needed to go to the hospital after the fall and you now owe tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. You’re also going to be out of work for some time and you need compensation for the wages that you’re going to miss.
But then your boss tells you that it was your fault because you slipped and fell. They claim they don’t have to cover you through workers’ comp if you’re the one who is at fault for the injury. Is this true?
Why is your boss telling you this?
First of all, no, this is not true. Workers’ comp does not address fault the same way that other personal injury lawsuits do. It is a no-fault system. Workers who are covered are supposed to be given that compensation regardless of whose fault their injuries were, if those injuries happened on the job. The benefit that employers get is that the employees that are not going to be starting lawsuits to sue the company.
So the thing you want to ask yourself is why your boss would tell you that you can’t file. It could be that they simply don’t understand the system and they believe that you can’t. They may come around if you tell them how it actually works. But it could also be more problematic, such as in a situation where your boss neglected to get workers’ comp insurance and so they’re trying to manipulate you.
Either way, you can see why it’s so important to understand all of your actual legal options as you move forward.