Workers’ compensation programs are there to take care of an employee in case of a workplace injury. Almost any type of injury or accident is covered by the typical program, too. In the legal language of a workers’ comp plan, it should note that an employee will be eligible to receive benefits even if he or she is directly responsible for the injury.
For example: A stockroom worker could be putting a heavy box onto a higher shelf, as he was instructed by his manager. He hears his cellphone ring in his pocket and glances away from the box for a second, which also makes his grip slip. The box comes crashing down and seriously injures the employee. Even if he admits he was distracted by his own cellphone, which was permitted to be on his person while working, he should be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Injuries Not Covered by Workers’ Comp
In West Virginia, and most other states, there are particular injuries that will not be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage. These injuries generally involve an employee injury that occurred when that employee was breaking company policy in an egregious way.
Workers’ compensation might be denied if the injury suffered was:
- Self-inflicted: Any injury sustained while performing work duties or while at work will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if it was intentionally self-inflicted. This is the basis of many workers’ comp denials, as the employer may argue the worker was trying to get hurt to get coverage. An injury sustained in a fight or brawl started by the injured person counts as self-inflicted.
- Inflicted during a serious crime: If an employee is currently committing a serious crime – such as a high level misdemeanor or felony – he or she will not be able to collect workers’ compensation for any injuries suffered at that time. This is to act as an additional deterrent against committing severe criminal violations.
- Inflicted while company policy was violated: An employee that is knowingly violating company policy could potentially be denied from collecting workers’ compensation. Denials based on this interpretation may be difficult to enforce, as an employee with good intentions could inadvertently violate company policy and get hurt. Intoxication or drug use on the job that leads to an injury is usually counted as an egregious violation of company policy, even if these behaviors are not specifically banned in employee manuals.
- Inflicted off-the-clock: Workers’ compensation benefits will not be granted for any injury suffered while an employee was not on-the-clock and not performing some sort of duty for his or her employer. For example, getting into a car crash while on the way to work does not qualify for workers’ compensation, despite the apparent link to the workplace. However, someone driving their vehicle as part of their job duties – like a pizza delivery driver – could seek workers’ comp in the event of a car accident.
For more information regarding your rights as an injured employee in West Virginia, contact Lord Hoosier, PLLC and our Charleston workers’ compensation lawyers. We have more than 20 years of total legal experience and a keen understanding of employment law, which can prove crucial in a workers’ compensation case. Get your free consultation today to begin.