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Will Workers’ Comp Cover Employee Negligence?
Workers’ compensation insurance is designed to provide benefits to injured workers and to protect employers from injury lawsuits brought by employees. It pays for medical care, partially replaces lost wages during recovery from work-related injuries, and covers vocational rehabilitation for workers when needed. Generally, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that provides benefits for workers injured on the job, regardless of who was at fault.
What Happens When an Employee Is Negligent?
In some cases, an illness or injury can be caused by employee negligence. For example, an employee may develop carpal tunnel syndrome over time because of failing to sit properly at his or her desk. A worker who fails to wear the protective gear provided by the company may breathe in toxic fumes and develop a respiratory disorder as a result. A construction worker who neglects to wear a helmet provided by the company may suffer a head injury from a falling object.
Incidental injuries such as these are usually covered by workers’ comp, even when the employee was negligent. However, there are certain exceptions to the rule.
Injuries Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Most workplace injuries, including those caused by employee negligence, are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. The types of injuries workers’ comp will not cover are:
Self-inflicted injuries: When an employee deliberately inflicts injury on himself or herself, those injuries are not covered by workers’ compensation.
Injuries sustained while committing a crime: If an employee is injured while committing a crime at work, workers’ comp will not cover the injuries.
Injuries sustained while violating company policy: If company policy prohibits drinking on the job and an employee is injured while intoxicated in a work-related accident, those injuries will not be covered by workers’ compensation.
Benefits Provided by Workers’ Compensation
For injured workers approved for benefits, workers’ comp provides:
Payment for medical treatment and expenses: This includes emergency medical care, follow-up treatment, physical rehabilitation, and related transportation expenses.
Partial reimbursement for time off work during recovery: This is usually a weekly benefit calculated as a certain percentage of an employee’s average weekly earnings.
Payment for permanent impairment: This benefit is paid out as compensation for permanent physical impairment that can affect a worker’s future earning capacity. The greater the degree of impairment, the more the injured employee receives.
Vocational rehabilitation services: When a worker needs a different job or line of work because of injuries suffered on the job, vocational rehabilitation services are available under workers’ comp.
Death benefits for family members of employees killed in work-related accidents.
Does Your Company Have Sufficient Workers’ Comp and Business Insurance?
Accidents can happen on the job and, with certain exceptions, injured workers are covered by workers’ comp regardless of negligence or fault for the accident. Our experienced agents are happy to meet with you to review your business insurance package and help ensure you have adequate coverage to meet you company’s needs, including general liability, professional liability, workers’ compensation, and other business and commercial insurance.