Willful misconduct provides a reason for insurance companies to deny workers’ compensation claims. One of the more popular types of willful misconduct defense is the failure to use a safety appliance.
Many employers have safety equipment available for use by employees to minimize the risk of injury. When an employee is injured at work and has failed to follow a rule or use a particular piece of equipment, the employer will often refuse to pay workers’ compensation benefits because of the failure to follow the rule or use the appliance.
Willful Misconduct Explained
The Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act generally does not deny benefits for negligence or even gross negligence. In other words, in order for an employer to deny benefits to an injured worker for violation of a safety rule, the violation must be willful.
This basically means the violation must be intentional. If the injured worker simply forgot or just was not being careful enough, workers’ compensation benefits should still be paid.
Safety Appliance Defense Requirements
In fact, the safety appliance defense is a pretty difficult one for employers to prove. In addition to proving willfulness, the employer also must prove that:
- They provided a safety appliance
- The appliance was accessible to the injured worker
- The injured knew about the safety appliance and that it was available
- The injured worker had been instructed in how to use the safety appliance
- There was no emergency
- The injury was caused by the failure to use the safety appliance
It can be intimidating when your employer claims that it is your fault that you got hurt. However, even if you you were injured from your failure to use safety equipment, you may still receive benefits.
If the insurance company does deny your case, you probably need to talk to a workers’ compensation attorney.