Workers’ compensation is a very useful tool for workers who are injured on the job. These workers can receive benefits that cover medical expenses and two-thirds of their lost wages up to a weekly maximum of $550 while the worker recovers from their work-related injuries. Injured workers can receive up to a maximum of 400 weeks’ worth of benefits. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that so long as the work-related injuries result from a workplace accident, the benefits will generally be awarded regardless of whether the employer is at fault for causing the accident or the worker is at fault for causing the accident. However, there are some exceptions that could render an injured worker ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
When Workers Are Ineligible for Workers’ Compensation
In addition to some classes of workers being ineligible for workers’ compensation, such as independent contractors, farm laborers, railroad commission workers, longshoremen, and some domestic workers, there are certain acts that can make an otherwise eligible worker ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation does not provide workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers who are willfully or negligently at fault for causing their workplace accident. There is a difference between an accident in the workplace, that could have happened to anyone in the exact same situation, and being willfully or negligently responsible for causing an accident in the workplace.
A normal accident is one that would happen to any worker in your position, it just so happened that you were the victim of the accident. The accident arises out of or occurs as a result of his or her normal job duties. The accident occurs when the employee is working and is in some way related to his or her regular course of work.
However, an accident that the worker causes due to his or her willful misconduct, gross negligence or ridiculously inappropriate behavior in the workplace could have been avoided if not for the worker’s terrible lack of good judgement. As such, workers whose work-related injuries are the byproduct of their own bad actions are ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Some examples of a worker’s bad acts that could render him or her ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits include:
- Violations of the employer’s employee code of conduct. If the employer has provided workers with a code of conduct, which includes workplace rules for safety, and if a worker’s injuries result from an accident that is the byproduct of the employee failing to comply with the employee code of conduct, the worker might be rendered ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Getting into a physical altercation with a coworker or boss. The injuries sustained from a fight in the workplace that was brought on by the worker’s own taunting, teasing, fighting words, etc., will most likely render the worker ineligible for workers’ compensation since the worker’s own misconduct, i.e., instigating a fight in the workplace, is not an accident.
- Working while intoxicated. When a worker is intoxicated at work, either by drugs or alcohol, and the worker suffers a work-related accident and injuries, the worker will most likely be considered ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits since the worker exercised poor judgement by being intoxicated on the job. There is a difference between a worker’s willful and voluntary intoxication, and a worker who becomes intoxicated by exposure to chemicals or toxins in the workplace. The former would be ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits if he or she became injured on the job, but the latter scenario worker would be eligible since the intoxication, and thus the resulting injuries, were not the result of the worker’s willful actions.
- Horseplaying in the workplace. Horseplay in the workplace is inappropriate and can be very dangerous. A worker who is injured as a result of his or her own horseplay or prank, will likely be ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, an unsuspecting victim of the horseplay or prank who is not a willing participant in the horseplay, will likely be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits upon suffering an injury in the workplace, since the horseplay or prank was not his or her own doing and he or she is merely a victim of a coworker’s actions.
- Off the clock accidents. A worker involved in workplace accident, who is off the clock may be ineligible for workers’ compensation since they are on the worksite when they are not supposed to be. For instance, workers who are on their lunch break, or are on a smoke break, are engaging in activities that are not work related. If workers who are on break suffer an injury while on break, they are often ineligible for workers’ compensation. However, there may be facts and circumstances that would entitle an off the clock worker who is injured on the work site to workers’ compensation benefits. Consult with an experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer.
- Workers who are on the clock, but have deviated from their normal duties. Some workers may be on the clock when they are injured, but their injuries might be the result of something that is a gross deviation from their normal work duties. These injuries might not be eligible for workers’ compensation since the worker was doing something outside of the scope of his or her job without authorization. For instance, a worker who is a delivery driver that makes a personal stop at a store while on the clock and has an accident leaving the parking lot will most likely be ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits since his or her actions were not within the scope of his or her job duties.
Need an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer? Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers
If you stand accused of being responsible for your work-related injuries in a way that would render you ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you need to speak with a lawyer. If you were injured on the job, you need to seek the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. The skilled work injury legal professionals in Atlanta, GA at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers are committed to helping workers get the workers’ compensation they need. Please contact us today.