Can employers blame workers for their on-the-job injuries?

There are many ways for New Jersey workers to get hurt on the job. There could be equipment malfunctions or incidents related to that weather. Mistakes and errors often contribute to workplace injuries. Injured employees may feel confident seeking benefits when they know that someone else is to blame for their injury.

On the other hand, they may worry about filing a claim if they technically made a mistake that led to them getting hurt on the job. Can employers in New Jersey deny people workers’ compensation benefits by alleging that they caused their own injuries?

Fault plays little role in most employee claims

For some types of insurance, like motor vehicle insurance, liability plays a major role in someone’s eligibility for a claim. They usually need to show that the party who carried the policy was somehow liable for their injuries.

Thankfully, that is not the way that workers’ compensation coverage works in New Jersey. The coverage that the employer obtains is no-fault coverage. A worker does not need proof that their employer is to blame for their injury to file a claim. An incident that was a fluke accident or a result of a criminal act could still lead to a workers’ compensation claim. A worker’s personal fault usually has little bearing on their eligibility for benefits.

Even if an employer has witnesses or surveillance footage showing that a worker somehow caused their own injury, that employee could still potentially qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Only the most extreme cases of employee fault would impact someone’s eligibility for benefits.

If there is proof supporting an employer’s claim that a worker hurt themselves on purpose, then that could leave them ineligible for benefits. A failed drug or alcohol test could also affect eligibility for workers’ compensation coverage. If an employer can show that someone was under the influence on the job and that intoxication contributed to the incident where someone suffered injuries, then workers’ compensation benefits may not be available to the employee.

Even when a worker makes serious mistakes on the job, they can still potentially get disability and medical benefits to help cover their lost wages and treatment. Instead of fearing the possibility that an employer may fight their claim, workers should communicate with their employers about their incident and begin the process of pursuing benefits. If they run into obstacles along the way, seeking legal guidance is always an option.

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