In Minnesota, people who are injured at work are generally eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through their employers’ insurance carriers. However, when the injuries resulted because the workers were violating company rules, their claims for workers’ compensation benefits may be denied.
In cases in which an employee’s injury happened because he or she was violating a company rule, the employer may defend against the workers’ compensation claim with a prohibited acts defense. For the employer’s defense to succeed, the injury must have directly resulted from the employee engaging in the prohibited act, however. For example, in a recent case involving a bus driver who exited his bus to chase a passenger who had spit in his face and was shoved down, the claim was denied because the bus company had a policy prohibiting bus drivers from engaging in physical confrontations with passengers or leaving their seats.
Workers who are injured when they violate safety rules can typically still recover workers’ compensation benefits. For example, if a worker fails to wear goggles and receives an eye injury while performing his or her work duties, he or she will likely still be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. The prohibited acts defense will likely fail in this type of situation.
People who are injured at work and receive notices of denial for their workers’ comp benefits claims will have a limited time to appeal the denial. An individual might benefit by consulting with a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after they receive their denial notices. The attorney may review the relevant medical and employment records and the reason provided for the denial to give an honest assessment of the legal options that the worker might have. If an attorney agrees to accept a claim, he or she may litigate the matter on behalf of the client through the appeals process.