Who Pays the Bills When You are Injured at Work but Violating Your Company Safety Rules
Who Pays the Bills When You are Injured at Work but Violating Your Company Safety Rules?
State law requires that employers carry workers’ compensation insurance in case any of their employees are injured on the job. In fact, Arizona actually has a constitution that requires workers’ compensation coverage, which is unique among other states. That means that if you are injured, your employer (or its insurance company) should pay the cost of your medical care, as well as a percentage of the wages you lost while you were out of work.
But most workers’ compensation claims are not cut and dry. What happens if you are injured at a work party? Does that still count as you being on the job? Or what happens if you are injured on your way to work? Do you still have coverage?
Perhaps one of the most contentious questions surrounding workers’ compensation is if you are still covered if you were injured while in violation of a safety rule or other established protocol. Unfortunately, the answer is not cut and dry either, and you will need to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer or an AZ personal injury lawyer to figure out how the law applies to your case specifically. Here’s an overview of how Arizona law handles these claims:
No one works 100 percent of the time that they are at work. You might chat with a co-worker about your weekend or about the latest game. You might show someone pictures of your kids. Or you might even tell jokes or mess around with the friends you’ve made at work. What happens if you are horsing around next to a piece of heavy duty equipment and you accidentally hit it, get burned by it, or are otherwise injured by it?
It’s likely that you will still be covered by workers’ compensation. Arizona law provides coverage even during moments of horseplay when it is mingled with regular work. You may not be covered if your horseplay is substantial, such as when you have been playing an hour-long game of dodge ball in the warehouse.
Drug or Alcohol Use
Just about every workplace has a rule against using drugs or alcohol on the premises, and certainly within the course of performing your job. You would think that being under the influence would prevent you from recovering anything for your injuries, but it doesn’t. Arizona law dictates that workers’ compensation coverage extends to employees who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol unless the employee can no longer follow the work and abandons it. For example, someone who is too drunk to do the work won’t be covered, but someone who is still working while under the influence likely would be.
Again, each case must be evaluated on its own circumstances, so you’ll need to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer to know your rights for sure.
Violating a workplace rule or safety rule will not necessarily bar you from workers’ compensation coverage in Arizona either. For example, you likely will not be barred from coverage just because you weren’t wearing a hard hat or safety goggles.
Employers must show that they have an established “prohibited act” to deny coverage for some other rule violations. To enforce a prohibited act, the employee must have known about the rule, the rule must have been normally observed, the employer must have taken steps to enforce the rule, and whether violating the rule would be considered unreasonably dangerous. The law would also take into consideration the reason for the rule and whether it was reasonably foreseeable that the prohibited behavior would occur.
Every situation is different, and there are a lot of variables that can occur that cannot be foreseen. There won’t always be a clear law outlining whether coverage will be applied. The best thing you can do if you are injured on the job is to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer, not try to become an expert on personal injury law in Arizona.
My AZ Lawyers are the experts on Arizona personal injury law. We can help you understand the laws in Arizona and how they apply to your case. A personal injury lawyer from our team will work hard to help you get the settlement that you deserve. If you have already been offered a settlement for your injuries, our lawyers may be able to help you get more. Call us today to talk to an Arizona workers’ compensation lawyer about your injuries and to learn more about your legal options.
My AZ Lawyers
1731 West Baseline Rd., Suite #100
Mesa, AZ 85202
Office: (480) 448-9800
20325 N 51st Avenue Suite #134, Building 5
Glendale, AZ 85308
Office: (602) 509-0955
2 East Congress St., Suite #900-6A
Tucson, AZ 85701
Office: (520) 441-1450
12725 W. Indian School Rd., Ste E, #101
Avondale, AZ 85392
Office: (623) 399-4222