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Can Workers Compensation Deny Me If I Was Negligent?

Serious workers compensation injuries happen for many different reasons.  Sometimes, no one could have prevented the injury.  Other times, you might have avoided getting injured if you were being more careful.

When someone tells you that you were not being careful enough after an injury, you probably will wonder whether the workers compensation insurance company may fight or deny your case.  In this article, I will discuss whether the insurance company can deny your workers compensation case if you were not being careful enough.

Car wreckDoes Georgia’s workers compensation law cover accidents that are my fault?

Yes.  You can usually receive benefits when an injury is your fault.

A typical situation I encounter  is someone who is driving a car for their job.  Suppose this person crashes into the back of another vehicle.  An accident like this would usually be their fault, but that person can still receive workers compensation benefits for the injuries from this accident.

Why should someone receive workers’ compensation benefits even if it is their fault they got hurt?

They get these benefits because workers’ compensation is supposed to be a no fault system.  Under this system, it does not matter whose fault it is that you got hurt.  You receive workers’ compensation benefits when you are injured doing your job.

The reason that you do not have to prove that someone else is at fault is that you can only recover limited damages in a workers’ compensation case.  Workers compensation is about providing medical treatment and lost wage benefits when accidents occur so that someone can recover from their injuries and return to work.

Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes lead to injuries. Workers compensation is an insurance system that pays for those injuries when they occur on the job.  It does not matter if the injury is your fault, you company’s fault, someone else’s fault, or nobody’s fault.

Personal injury is much different.  In a personal injury case, you almost always have to prove that someone else was at fault in order to recover any damages.

Does it ever matter that I was at fault when I got hurt?

Sometimes, your fault can matter in a workers compensation case.  But, it is not enough that you just made a mistake.

In order for your actions to prevent you from receiving workers compensation benefits, they have to rise to the level of willful misconduct.  I have talked about willful misconduct in previous blog articles but wanted to discuss it again because the Georgia Court of Appeals and Georgia Supreme Court have recently decided cases on it.

In October 2015, the Georgia Court of Appeals decided the case of Burdette v. Chandler Telecom.  Adrian Burdette was severely injured when he fell off a cell phone tower.  His employer claimed that he disobeyed instructions from his supervisor about how to climb down the cell phone tower.

His employer denied his workers compensation claim by asserting that he was injured as a result of his willful misconduct.  The State Board of Workers’ Compensation agreed with his employer and denied his claim.

Mr. Burdette appealed his case to the Georgia Court of Appeals.  The Court of Appeals reversed the State Board of Workers’ Compensation’s decision and held that Mr. Burdette’s claim was not barred by willful misconduct.  Jason Perkins filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Georgia Legal Foundation with the Court of Appeals in this case.

The workers compensation insurance company then appealed the case to the Georgia Supreme Court.  The Georgia Supreme Court said the Court of Appeals applied the wrong legal standard.  They sent the case back to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation to reconsider the case under the correct legal standard.  This decision could increase the chance that insurance companies deny more workers compensation cases based on willful misconduct.

Therapist or doctor with patient with knee brace on leg and wheelchairShould workers compensation cover injuries like the one Mr. Burdette suffered?

Some might say that Mr. Burdette should not receive workers compensation benefits because he was not careful enough.  But workers compensation is not about how careful someone was.  It is about getting benefits to people who are injured doing their jobs.

Sometimes people make mistakes and get hurt doing their jobs.  These mistakes should not prevent them from receiving the medical treatment and wage loss benefits they need while they recover from their injuries.

Willful misconduct covers situations where people intentionally do something stupid knowing that they are probably going to get hurt.  Those type of actions prevent someone from receiving benefits, but true willful misconduct is rare.

Most of the time, someone is injured as a result of carelessness or a mistake.  In those situations, I believe injured workers should receive benefits because workers compensation is intended to be a no fault system.

What if I have other questions about workers compensation?

Georgia’s workers compensation system can be very confusing.  You have to worry about getting the treatment you need and paying your bills while also worrying about not missing any deadlines that could cause you to lose your right to receive workers compensation benefits.

If you have questions, I would recommend that you try to get answers.  To find out more about how to schedule a time to talk to me about your workers compensation questions, just read this short article.

Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers.  He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.

To be notified of Jason’s new workers compensation videos, subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation Video Series channel on YouTube by clicking the subscribe button below.

Brittney-lee orourkeBrittney-lee orourke
05:23 18 Feb 22
Amazing! Jason and his team were very helpful and had the best communication by far. Walked me though every step with great detail and had answers for any question I had. They handled my case better then I could imagine, it was a weird case and they stayed on top of it and kept me updated every step of the way! Highly recommend this Team! Thanks so much to Jason and his Awesome team!-Brittney
China JonesChina Jones
18:58 08 Feb 22
I absolutely love this group of attorneys, when I was at my lowest they did everything they could to help me get justice for my injury. I believe if I were to have never picked my phone up and called the amazing group that helped me I definitely would not have received my idea of rights. If you have an issue and are just not sure please understand that they will help you, stay in contact, answer any question you have, and for sure get you the justice you deserve I thank them from the bottom of my heart and I will definitely refer them to anyone who has been hurt because they most definitely care about their work and clients.
Luv LocsLuv Locs
16:08 15 Jan 22
The entire law office was attentive and responsive to all of my concerns dealing with my workers compensation case.
moombimoombi
21:14 02 Jan 22
If you must get a lawyer involved, you’d do well to work with Jason Perkins and his team at Perkins Studdard Law.They were thorough in gathering information and in sharing all the steps in the workers comp process specific to my case. Jason and the team were responsive to my bevy of questions and concerns.I appreciated the informative videos and consultations provided by Jason over video meetings and multiple phone calls.I hope I’m never injured on the job again. However, if I am and if my employer responds as my previous employer did, I’ll contact Perkins Studdard Law immediately to handle the case.
Dana BessDana Bess
23:57 10 Dec 21
Everyone at Perkins Studdard was kind and professional. They were always extremely responsive and answered all questions that I had and followed up to make sure I had an understanding of what was going on along with emailing videos to explain every step of my case so I would know what to expect and be prepared. Jason is a very genuine person and I trusted him with my case. He answered so many questions for me even before I retained him as my WC lawyer. I highly recommend him and his associates at Perkins Studdard.
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