Why is Workers’ Compensation Described as a “No-Fault” System?

pensive man with doctor filing form

If you were injured in a work accident and have been researching workers’ compensation, you may have seen it described as a “no-fault” system. What exactly does this mean?

Essentially, the description of the workers’ compensation system as no-fault means that liability often is not considered in workers’ compensation cases. Regardless of who is at fault for an on-the-job injury, liability will often not have an effect on an employee’s benefits. There are some special cases in which liability does play a factor, under certain circumstances.

Employer Liability for Work Accidents

Primarily, the no-fault characteristic of the workers’ compensation system excuses employers from liability. In general, an injured worker cannot sue their employer for negligence in relation to their work accident. Claimants do not need to provide evidence of fault or attribute liability to their employer to recover benefits. Benefits are collected through the workers’ compensation system rather than from the liable party, like in a personal injury case.

There are some exceptions to this rule. In rare cases, an employer can be held liable for a worker’s injuries if gross negligence or misconduct is to blame for the incident. For example, if an employer’s negligence created an extremely unsafe working environment or if they intentionally harmed a worker, the injury victim may be entitled to file a lawsuit. These conditions can be difficult to define, so instances in which filing a lawsuit is allowed is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Employee Liability for Work Accidents

The no-fault nature of the workers’ compensation system also applies to injured employees’ role in causing their own injuries. Work accidents that result from an employee’s forgetfulness, oversight, or lack of preparedness are generally excusable — employees can usually recover benefits if their work injuries were caused by their own, typical negligence.

As is true when considering employer liability, employees can be held liable for work accidents if gross negligence or misconduct contributed to their harm. The circumstances for possibly barring an employee from receiving workers’ compensation benefits vary between cases. Intoxication, fighting, breaking laws, and violating company safety policies are all reasons an employee may be found at fault for their own injuries, and therefore unable to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

The Law Offices of Wax & Wax can guide you through every step of your workers’ compensation claim. If you were injured on the job, contact us today.

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