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If a worker causes an injury, do they lose out on workers’ comp?

There is a popular saying that accidents happen. The idea is that people sometimes wind up in circumstances over which they have no control and for which they have no personal responsibility. While that may be true, many times the events that people refer to as accidents are clearly the fault of one person.

Someone texting at the wheel and not watching the road around them could T-Bone another driver because they don’t notice the changing traffic signals. A chef working in a high-pressure kitchen environment could suffer a severe cut that they cause by moving their hands the wrong way while chopping. Someone in a factory could make a mistake while lifting that leads to a back injury or even a hernia.

When the circumstances make it clear that the worker didn’t intentionally hurt themselves but nonetheless caused their own injury, do they lose out on the right to ask for workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation in California is a no-fault system

While fault for causing an incident often plays a role in insurance claims, it has no bearing whatsoever on your right to workers’ compensation. Unless you broke the law or were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time that you got hurt at work, you typically have the right to make a claim and seek benefits. Neither your employer nor the insurance company can deny you benefits because you played a role in causing your injury.

It doesn’t matter that you cut yourself or made a mistake on the job. Everyone occasionally makes mistakes. You should not have to bear the burden of not just medical expenses but also lost wages during your recovery because of a risk that has always been a part of your job. The longer you work a job with a lot of risks, the greater the likelihood that you will eventually suffer a lost-time incident on the job.

Provided that you need medical care, workers’ compensation will cover the cost of your treatment. If the injury is severe enough that you need to take an extended leave of absence to heal, you can also typically receive disability benefits. Even those who suffer a permanent, lifelong injury that limits or ends their ability to work can get workers’ compensation benefits.