Workplace injuries can happen in many different ways. Some accidents on the job are true accidents, and no one might be at fault. In other situations, a co-worker or supervisor might have made a mistake that led to your injury, or perhaps you made an error that caused your own accident. Third parties that are not directly affiliated with your employer might be to blame. Because of all the possibilities, a common question becomes whether or not the cause of your workplace injury matters.
No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Under California law, workers’ compensation benefits are not dependent on fault for the injuries. You should be able to qualify for benefits to cover your medical expenses and lost wages, whether:
- You were negligent and caused the accident
- Your employer was negligent and caused the accident
- The accident occurred outside of anyone’s negligence
In exchange for having no-fault coverage from workers’ compensation, workers give up the right to file a lawsuit against their employer for negligence following a workplace injury. In most cases, no-fault benefits should cover your injuries, and the cause of your workplace injury does not impact your eligibility for benefits, so long as you can show your injury was job-related.
Possible Exceptions to this Rule
There are rare situations in which workers’ compensation might not be your only remedy after a workplace injury in California, and you should discuss these possibilities with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Some situations in which you might be able to seek additional compensation via a personal injury claim include:
- The injury occurred due to intentional assault by your employer
- Your employer consented to an assault by another employee
- Your employer tried to fraudulently conceal the cause of your injury, and the injury was aggravated as a result
- An employer failed to install a safety guard on a power press or removed the safety guard from a power press
Any of the above causes of work-related injuries can change the process of obtaining compensation. Not only might you be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, but you also might be able to file a claim for damages in civil court against your employer.
In some cases, someone not directly affiliated with your employer might be responsible for causing your injuries. For example:
- A manufacturer sells defective safety gear or work equipment that malfunctions and leads to your injury
- A contractor that is not employed by your employer makes a negligent error on the job site, causing your accident and injury
- An independent crew negligently assembles scaffolding or other materials that collapse and cause injuries
- A driver crashes into you while you are driving as part of your job duties
In these types of situations, you can seek workers’ compensation benefits, as well as seeking damages from the third party that caused the accident.
Compensation for a workplace injury is not always as straightforward as you might think. You should always discuss all of your rights with an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney.