All employers in New York State are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover lost wages for employees who are injured on the job. In most cases, workers’ compensation benefits are the sole compensation employees hurt at work are entitled to. There are very limited exceptions under the law that allow injured workers to sue their employer or co-workers for negligence because workers’ compensation is considered to be a “no-fault” system. It’s important to understand what a no-fault workers’ compensation system is so you know what to expect in the event you suffer an injury at work.
What Does “No-Fault” Mean?
There is often confusion around the term “no-fault.” No-fault insurance policies simply mean that compensation will be promptly provided for health and medical costs, lost wages, or other expenses related to other injuries, regardless of which party was responsible, or at fault, for the injuries sustained. No-fault systems are in place in many states because they’re intended to provide quicker payments and limit litigation between parties.
How Does No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Work?
As mentioned, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. An employee who was injured while working is entitled to compensation benefits regardless of which party–themselves, the employer, or a coworker–was at fault. So, an injured worker can collect workers’ compensation benefits even if their accident was their fault or company or industry safety policies were not properly followed. Also, the amount of compensation earned by an injured employee is not impacted regardless of which party is at fault. This means benefits will be calculated according to the extent of the injury sustained and average weekly wages.
Exceptions to No-Fault Workers’ Compensation
While a no-fault system protects injured employees in most situations, some exceptions can render an employee ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Some common exclusions include but are not limited to:
Alcohol and Substance Abuse
Being intoxicated or inebriated can greatly inhibit coordination and decision-making. If it is determined that the use of drugs or alcohol contributed to your injury, you won’t be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
Horseplay and Fighting
Most injuries caused by horseplay or fighting in the workplace are not eligible for workers’ compensation, as these incidents are considered non-work related. However, there may be cases where these types of incidents do warrant workers’ compensation benefits. An attorney can help determine if your specific situation is eligible for workers’ compensation or not.
Get the Benefits You Deserve
If you have been injured at work and believe that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted attorney. At Lewis & Lewis, our goal is to ensure our clients’ rights are protected. We’ll help you receive the maximum benefits allowed according to your condition. Contact our office today to learn more.