Workers’ Comp if You Were Partially at Fault for the Accident
Workers’ compensation provides benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. But what if the employee was partially at fault for the accident? Can they still receive workers’ comp benefits in Minnesota?
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides medical coverage and lost wage replacement for employees injured on the job. It is a no-fault system, meaning that employees can receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury.
Contributory Negligence in Minnesota
Minnesota follows the doctrine of contributory negligence. This means that if an injured employee was even 1% at fault for causing the accident, the employee’s own negligence may bar them from receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
However, there are some exceptions. An employee’s negligent actions will not prohibit them from receiving benefits if:
The Negligence Was Related to Their Job Duties
If the employee’s negligence occurred while performing job duties in the usual manner, this will not prevent them from receiving benefits. For example, a delivery driver who causes an accident due to negligent driving while making deliveries could still receive workers’ comp.
The Negligence Resulted from an Employee’s Inexperience
If an inexperienced employee performs their job duties in a negligent manner, they can still obtain benefits. For instance, a new forklift operator who causes an accident due to their inexperience could still get coverage.
The Negligence Resulted from an Employee’s Lack of Judgment
Using poor judgment while doing your job does not necessarily bar you from workers’ comp. For example, a roofer who decides to work in high winds and falls could still receive benefits.
Common Scenarios: Can You Get Benefits if Partially at Fault?
Let’s look at some common scenarios to understand when an employee who is partially negligent can still obtain workers’ compensation:
Failing to Follow Safety Procedures
An employee who fails to follow proper safety procedures while working could be considered negligent. However, if the negligent act was related to their normal job duties, they can likely still receive benefits.
Operating Machinery Improperly
Improperly using work equipment like forklifts or machinery can be deemed negligent. But if it occurred while performing normal job responsibilities, the employee would not necessarily be barred from workers’ comp.
Not Using Protective Gear
Choosing not to use proper protective equipment like a harness, gloves, or goggles could be seen as negligence. But if the gear was not directly related to the injury, the employee may still receive benefits.
Working Under the Influence
Being intoxicated or impaired while working is negligent. But in Minnesota, intoxication does not automatically bar workers’ comp benefits unless it was the direct cause of the injury.
Proving Fault in Workers’ Comp Cases
The burden of proof lies with the employer (or their insurance company) to show that the employee’s negligence caused the accident. Some key factors in determining fault include:
Witness testimony about the accident
Police reports detailing the incident
Video surveillance footage if available
Statements from medical experts regarding the employee’s condition
Evidence of safety protocol violations
Proving an employee’s negligence caused the accident can be difficult. Experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can help employees fight back against allegations of fault to obtain the benefits they deserve.
Don’t Lose Hope if Partially at Fault
Here are some key takeaways on receiving workers’ comp with partial fault:
Negligence related to normal work duties may not prohibit benefits.
Inexperience and poor judgment do not necessarily equal denial of benefits.
The burden of proof is on the employer to show the negligence caused the injury.
Don’t assume you can’t get benefits if partially at fault – consult a workers’ comp attorney.
You may still recover benefits even if you failed to follow safety rules.
Being under the influence does not automatically deny benefits in Minnesota.
While contributory negligence can complicate a workers’ comp claim, it does not automatically destroy your chances of obtaining coverage. An experienced workers comp attorney can help maximize your likelihood of receiving benefits.
1. Can I get workers’ comp if I wasn’t following safety rules?
Yes, you may still be able to get benefits if your negligence was related to normal work duties. Failing to follow safety rules does not automatically prohibit compensation.
2. What if I was distracted or not paying attention when injured?
Your inattentiveness may be deemed negligent, but does not completely bar you from workers’ comp unless it was the sole cause of injury.
3. Can I get workers’ comp if I was under the influence when injured?
Possibly. Intoxication does not automatically deny benefits under Minnesota law. But it could impact your case if it directly led to the accident.
4. If I was negligent, do I have to prove I deserve benefits?
No, the burden of proof is on your employer to demonstrate your negligence caused the injury. An attorney can help dispute any allegations of fault.
5. What if I misunderstood instructions or didn’t have proper training?
Your inexperience would likely not be considered negligence prohibiting benefits. Lack of training or direction falls on the employer.