Do I have a right to workers’ compensation if I injured myself on the job?
Getting worker’s compensation benefits generally does not require a showing of fault by one party or another. If the injury took place in the course of your employment, you should be covered. But all cases are unique and very fact-specific.
Unlike with personal injury law, workers’ compensation does not normally involve fault issues. If the employer caused the accident, you won’t collect more money and if you caused the accident, you normally won’t be denied benefits.
Self-injury and intent
A self-inflicted injury may be intentional or unintentional. If a self-inflicted injury is intentional, it means the worker deliberately did harm to him or herself. If it is unintentional, it was the result of a mistake and there was no intent to self-harm. That unintentional type of injury would be covered by workers’ compensation.
If the injury was intentional, however, and the worker did something in order to harm him or herself, the injury would not be covered. But the burden would be on the employer to show that the self-injury was intentional. Another possible route for the employee in this case could be to show a mental illness was caused or worsened by work to the point where the worker was a danger to him or herself (which may be a difficult case to prove).
In very unusual cases, it could be found that the sole cause of the injury was the employee’s fault because the worker ignored a well-known safety rule or policy. In that case, a workers’ compensation claim could be denied. Normally, though, when an employee makes a mistake or doesn’t pay attention in the course of doing a job, there’s a work component, like a tool or piece of equipment that hits you.
Workers’ compensation benefits
As a practical matter, if you find yourself injured at work, don’t spend time wondering about legal issues. Report your injury to your employer. Your medical treatment will be chosen and paid for by the workers’ compensation insurance company. You may qualify for temporary disability benefits (70 percent of your gross weekly salary) if you are unable to work for at least seven days. You would return to work, and your benefits would end, when you are medically cleared to come back to work. If you suffer a permanent disability, you are entitled to a monetary award.