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A Joke Can Cost You Workers Comp

For Americans fortunate enough to have full-time jobs with health benefits and other perks, workers' compensation is one more bit of financial peace of mind that helps people work with confidence. Workers' compensation is a special form of financial support that only comes into play if someone is injured while on the job. The compensation can range from coverage for the bills for medical treatment, if required, all the way providing extra financial assistance if an injury is permanent, crippling and leaves someone unable to return to work.

Payment In Good Faith

Workers' compensation operates on three basic principles to qualify for it. The first and most obvious is that it is there to help financially recover from an injury incurred on the job. If someone gets injured while on vacation, workers' compensation will not provide any coverage for that.

Another important aspect of workers' compensation is that it is for work-related injuries that are not the fault of the victim. So, for example, a truck driver that is injured in a collision, where evidence is later found of alcohol consumption would not receive compensation for that work injury, because there’s now evidence that the driver may have caused the accident.

A final requirement is that a worker was doing the designated job responsibly. “Horseplay” is one of the factors that can result in workers comp not being provided. So even if, for example, a construction worker is on the job, and sober, if that construction worker is confirmed by other witnesses to have been juggling the power tool that resulted in a work injury, that would be considered “horseplay.” The job wasn’t being done; the construction worker was being careless and performing an unnecessary activity that could have injured others.

Investigations Will Be Conducted

One of the most important things for people to understand when a workplace injury takes place is that management and insurance companies will be aggressive about investigating the nature of an accident. If there is reason to believe an injury was brought on by worker negligence and was not the fault of the working environment or management, then the first instinct of an employer will be to support that conclusion and not provide workers compensation or other financial support for that injury. That is in the best interests of the company, and also works out for an insurer that now doesn’t have an obligation to pay out on a commercial policy for a business.

This is why workers need to understand that while jokes and horseplay on the job can alleviate stress and monotony, there’s also an associated risk. In addition to increasing the possibility that an injury can occur, the nature of how that injury occurred may invalidate any compensation.

Keeping Things Fair

On the other hand, a legitimate injury on the job may have occurred, and management or the insurer management works for has decided, unfairly, that horseplay was the cause, and therefore no compensation will be forthcoming.

In instances where a work injury deserves compensation, and you’re not getting it, talk to a workplace injuries lawyer about what your next step should be.