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Can I Get Workers' Compensation if I'm At Fault?

Workers’ compensation is critical when it comes to protecting New York workers who are injured on the job or who fall ill due to an occupational disease. So, who’s covered? Are all workers covered, or only some?

According to the New York Workers’ Compensation Board, “Virtually all employers in New York State must provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees.” This includes workers who work full and part-time at for-profit companies, as well as volunteers and family who work for a for-profit business.

So, assuming you are technically a “covered employee,” what about fault? What if you are 50% or even 100% responsible for the workplace accident and injury, does that mean you are ineligible to file a workers’ compensation claim? Read on as we shed light on this and hopefully answer your questions.

Workers’ Compensation is a No-Fault System

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that employees are entitled to benefits, regardless if the employer is at fault or if the employee is at fault, with limited exceptions. So, even if an employee is 100% to blame for a workplace injury, he or she would still be entitled to all their medical care and full benefits no questions asked.

“What are the exceptions?” Generally, the situations where a worker an at-fault worker would not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits are where the worker was: 1) under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, or 2) the workerintentionally tried to hurt themselves or someone else, which resulted in a workplace injury. In these two scenarios, the worker typically loses their right to benefits.

If you were partially or even fully to blame for the workplace accident, don’t let that discourage you from filing a claim for benefits. Unless one of the two exceptions listed above apply to you, you should be entitled to full benefits under the law. Workers make mistakes all the time and that doesn’t stop them from receiving the benefits that they are entitled to under New York’s workers’ compensation laws.

Related: Workers’ Compensation in NY: Who is Covered?