Workers’ compensation commonly provides medical benefits and a portion of lost wages to a worker who makes a mistake at work and gets hurt. It is not a system limited to only this sort of scenario, though. An injured employee can be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits even when their injuries were caused by someone else’s mistakes, like a coworker.
Workers’ Comp is a No-Fault System
Injured employees are capable of getting workers’ compensation benefits in a wide variety of situations and accidents because it is a no-fault system. You can admit to accidentally causing your injuries and still be eligible for benefits because liability is not a factor in whether or not your claim is valid. This no-fault system also means that you can still file for workers’ compensation when a coworker is the one who caused your accident.
For example, imagine that you work in an office and often take the stairs to get to your floor. A coworker walking up the stairs in front of you spills their coffee. Before you realize what happened, you step on the spill, slip, fall, and get injured. You should still be able to file for workers’ compensation because you were at work, your coworker is employed by your same employer, and you were completing a job-related task, i.e. going to and from your workstation.
The same situation can apply if you were hurt by many types of third parties at work, too. Even if your accident was caused by a vendor or a customer, you would likely still be eligible for workers’ compensation as long as the incident occurred at work or while you were completing a job-related duty.
Coworker Assault Claims
Your chances of getting workers’ compensation benefits could be disrupted if your injuries were suffered due to a coworker assaulting you, especially if they claim the altercation started for reasons unrelated to your work. Workers’ compensation is meant to help injured workers recover after a preventable accident, not a premeditated attack, which is why insurance companies usually deny assault-related claims involving two employees. Although, you might still be able to file a successful claim if it can be shown that your employer kept inadequate security around the premises or otherwise helped enable the assault.
Suing Your Coworker for Damages
When a coworker causes your injuries, you might find yourself in a unique situation in which you can file for workers’ compensation benefits and additional damages through a personal injury claim against that coworker. If there is evidence that your coworker was acting egregiously reckless or negligent, and that behavior led to your workplace injury, then you might be able to hold them accountable for damages in a separate claim that goes to civil court if contested. In the stairwell slip example mentioned above, imagine that your coworker intentionally spilled their coffee on the stairs as a prank or for some other irresponsible reason. If that happened, then you could probably consider suing them for damages not provided through workers’ compensation, like full missing wages and pain and suffering damages.
Do you have questions about whether or not you can get workers’ comp after a coworker caused your accident? If you live in Glendale or Santa Clarita, California, call (818) 946-0608 to connect with the attorneys of the Law Offices of Wax & Wax. We offer free consultations to inquiring local clients.