There are some situations where a worker immediately recognizes that they have the right to workers’ compensation benefits. For example, if there is a structural failure at the building where they work, and they get hit by a piece of the ceiling as it comes down, the worker probably knows that they can rely on workers’ compensation benefits to pay for their hospital bills and replace their lost wages until they fully recover.
Workers hurt because someone else in their department makes a mistake or there is some kind of equipment malfunction, like a tool shorting out, will probably feel perfectly confident about pursuing a worker’s compensation benefits claim.
However, employees often contribute to their own injuries. If you made a mistake that led to you getting hurt at work, does that mean you won’t qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?
Pennsylvania protects even the clumsiest worker
Did you lose your balance because you tend to get ahead of yourself at work, and then you fell down a ladder or a flight of stairs? It may not have been on purpose, but there is very little question about whether or not you are the one who caused your injury.
Thankfully, even when you are clearly to blame, your employer will not have grounds to simply deny your workers’ compensation benefits claim. The program in Pennsylvania provides no-fault coverage, which means that workers can get benefits even if there is security camera footage showing that they dropped something on their own foot.
With three potential exceptions, the fault you may bear for your injury at work will have minimal or no impact on your right to benefits.
What are the exceptions to no-fault coverage?
There may be three circumstances in which your fault for an injury might influence whether or not you receive benefits. The first involves intentionally hurting yourself. If your employer can show that you caused your own injury on purpose, they could use that as grounds to defend against your claim.
The second scenario that could affect your rights to benefits involves chemical impairment on the job. It is typically illegal to show up to work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you fail a test and your employer can show that you’re intoxication directly relates to the injury you suffered, then they could potentially deny you benefits based on your contribution to the situation.
Finally, in scenarios where an employee’s actions directly violate company policy, their employer could use that mistake against them and potentially deny them benefits. The same rule typically applies to someone violating the law while at their place of employment.
For most workers, the mistakes that they may make that contribute to their getting hurt will not eliminate their right to file a claim. Learning about the rules that apply to workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania will help injured workers better advocate for themselves.