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Am I Entitled to Workers' Comp if I'm at Fault?

In New York, workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that is paid by employers for the benefit of their employees. Workers’ compensation provides cash benefits and medical care to workers who have been injured in a work-related accident or who have become ill with an occupational disease.

While some states, such as Texas make workers’ compensation “optional” for private employers, that is not the case in New York. In New York State, almost all employers are required by law to carry workers’ compensation for their employees.

Who is not covered by workers’ compensation in New York?

  • Volunteer workers,
  • People who volunteer for nonprofit organizations,
  • Religious workers and clergy members,
  • People who teach for a nonprofit or religious organization,
  • A farmer’s spouse and minor children,
  • People, including minors who perform casual chores or do yard work in or around a single family residence that is owner-occupied,
  • Real estate salespeople, and
  • Certain insurance agents and brokers.

If you are a regular employee at a company and you do not fit into any of the above categories, you should be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. But, what if you were partially, or entirely to blame for the accident? Should you forget all about submitting a claim?

Perhaps you forgot to use the required safety equipment and you severely cut yourself. Perhaps you work in a hospital and you lifted a patient by yourself and you knew you should have asked for help, and you slipped a disk in your back.

Or, perhaps you accidentally crashed a forklift into a large pile of heavy, but meticulously stacked merchandise in a warehouse and it all came tumbling down on you. Should you pay for your own medical bills and hope you have a job when you recover?

Workers’ Compensation is a No-Fault System

Fortunately, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that a worker is entitled to cash and medical benefits, regardless of their own degree of carelessness.

A workers’ comp claim is NOT reduced by the employer’s own degree of fault, nor is it increased by their employer’s degree of fault. However, there are limited exceptions. A workers’ compensation claim may be denied if:

  • The injuries were not work-related,
  • The worker was under the influence of alcohol or drugs,
  • The worker tried to hurt themselves on purpose, or
  • The worker intentionally tried to hurt someone else, such as a co-worker, a fellow vendor, or a customer.

So, unless you were under the influence of the time of your accident, or intentionally trying to harm yourself or someone else, you should be covered by your employer’s workers compensation insurance!

Looking for a Schenectady workers’ compensation lawyer? Contact DeLorenzo, Grasso & Dalmata today to schedule a free case evaluation!