Workers’ compensation benefits take some of the risk out of having a job. Companies would likely have to pay much more to hire people for jobs like construction or hospital work where the risk of injury is very high if workers could end up severely hurt on the job without any sort of protection from the losses they might suffer in the event of an injury.
Having workers’ compensation benefits available can help employees to feel more comfortable about accepting more dangerous job responsibilities, as they know that they will have health care coverage and even disability pay available to them if they are unable to continue working temporarily or permanently as a result of work-related harm.
However, some employees seek benefits, only to end up challenged by their employer and facing a stressful appeals process. Can an employer try to deny someone’s benefits because they contributed to the injury or were at fault for the incident?
Workers’ compensation provides no-fault coverage
Employers have almost total protection from liability related to workplace injuries thanks to the no-fault rules for Minnesota workers’ compensation coverage. Even if an employee can show that their injury was because of something that their employer did wrong, they still typically only qualify for basic workers’ compensation coverage and will not be able to bring a lawsuit against their employer.
The no-fault rules also protect workers from employers trying to deny them coverage if they contribute to their workplace injury. A worker might make a timing error in the kitchen or forget a step while training at a new station on an assembly line. A tiny mistake on the part of a worker could lead to a catastrophic injury, like a broken bone or an amputation.
Employers generally cannot contest claims based on a worker’s fault or deny them benefits just because they contributed to their injury. The only circumstances in which fault affects workers’ compensation benefits are when employees get hurt because they intentionally injured themselves or when they got hurt while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In most other circumstances, a worker’s contributions to their injury won’t affect their right to benefits.
Learning more about how workers’ compensation benefits work may help employees feel empowered about pursuing a claim. Seeking legal guidance is often a good place to start.