Can I recover Workers' Compensation Benefits, No Matter What I did?
In California, Workers’ Compensation is based on a “no-fault” system. The “no-fault” system means the worker who got injured on the job are able to collect benefits no matter if they are at fault for the accident. There are many different situations that need to be taken under consideration but overall, in California, a person that gets injured during their work hours, are able to claim workers’ compensation benefits.
For example, if you are working with dangerous machinery and you fail to follow protocol and all the safety procedures, and as a result you are injured, you are still eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. In this example, the person technically is at fault because he didn’t follow the safety procedures. The employer might even tell that person that it was his fault and therefore can not claim his/her benefits. You might want to refer to our blog on employer retaliation if this is the case.
Similarly, if you are driving a company vehicle while on the job, and are involved in a road traffic accident and it is your fault, you can still collect Workers’ Compensation benefits. In these scenario, you as the worker were technically at fault by not meeting or following the safety procedures and laws, but in California that does not matter because since it occurred while you were on the job, you are covered by Workers’ Compensation. The only reason you would not be able to claim your benefits is if you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs or for some reason it is discovered that there was a malicious intent from your part.
Don't Act Irresponsibly
Simply because the “no-fault” system is at play, you should not act irresponsibly. Following all protocol and safety procedures will help ensure your safety and decrease the chances of an injury all together.
Don’t Assume Anything
You can not assume you will collect all benefits regardless of the cause of the work-related injury. In fact, if you get injured as a result of intoxication or illegal drug use, the Workers' Compensation benefits may not be payable. You also may not file a false claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits because you will not receive any benefits. Filing a false claim is considered a felony and you will be fined, imprisoned, or both.
Bottom line...you may receive Workers’ Compensation benefits even if the work injury was your fault, however try as best you can to follow all safety procedures to avoid higher chances of injury.
NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.