“Can I Get Workers’ Compensation If I Was At Fault for the Accident?”
In North Carolina, the workers’ compensation system is designed as a “No Fault” system. That means that you can generally recover workers’ compensation benefits even if you were partially or totally at fault in causing your injury.
Of course, there are exceptions. If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your claim for workers’ compensation can be denied. Or if you intentionally injured yourself, or intentionally started an altercation with another person, your claim for benefits can be barred. But if you did something silly, or even stupid, and caused yourself to be injured, you can still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Why Workers’ Compensation in North Carolina is “No Fault”
On its face, this system seems rather unfair. Why should a person receive workers’ compensation benefits if they did something to get themselves hurt? If a person trips over a railing because he’s staring down at his phone, should he really receive workers’ comp?
Quick and Specific Benefits
The first answer is that the North Carolina workers’ compensation system was designed to provide quick and specific benefits to people who are hurt on the job. We do not want plaintiffs and defendants in our court system to spend months or years battling about how or why an injured worker got hurt. We want injured workers to promptly receive workers’ compensation benefits, like medical care from quality doctors, and wage replacement payments (temporary total disability payments) so they can pay their rent or mortgage and support their families.
A Compromise System
The second answer is that the North Carolina workers’ compensation system is designed as a compromise between workers and employers. As part of that compromise, employers largely give up the right to challenge why an injured worker got hurt. If an employee got hurt on the job — in the course and scope of his or her employment duties — then he is entitled to workers’ compensation.
The other side of that compromise is that injured workers generally cannot sue their employer and seek things like pain and suffering. So, just as an employer cannot challenge an injured worker because he slipped and fell on a wet floor where there was a posted wet floor sign, the worker cannot sue the employer if the business allowed a floor to be mopped without having a wet floor sign.
Workers’ Comp for Those At Fault in an Accident: The Bottom Line
Put simply, the rule cuts both ways. Employers cannot challenge a work comp claim because the worker did something wrong, but workers cannot file a lawsuit against their employer because their boss did something wrong.
Exceptions to the Rule
Again, there are always exceptions. North Carolina does allow “Woodson” claims, where an injured worker can sue his or her employer if the employer did something so egregious such that it was substantially certain someone would be injured, like commanding employees to go into a trench filled with dynamite (yes that actually happened). And employers can seek a reduction on benefits paid to injured workers who willfully violated a known safety standard that resulted in their injury (the Commission rarely grants these applications, and when they do, the reduction is 10% of the workers’ weeks indemnity benefits). Injured workers can also apply for a step up in benefits if their employer is cited for an OSHA violation in conjunction with the employees injury (again, this is typically a 10% increase in weekly benefits owed to the claimant).
But in the vast majority of situations, it simply does not matter how an injured worker was injured, so long as he or she was on the job.
So essentially, if you have been hurt on the job, and you know you could have or should have done something differently that would have prevented your getting hurt — you should still apply for workers’ compensation benefits. It is part of the compromise system that we have in place.
For more answers to common workers’ compensation questions, please visit our Workers’ Comp FAQ page.
Injured On the Job in North Carolina?
If you’ve been hurt while on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and the North Carolina workers’ comp lawyers at Riddle & Brantley would love to help.
For a FREE, no-obligation consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney and Board-Certified Specialist in Workers’ Comp, please call 1-800-525-7111.
There are no upfront costs and you never pay any attorney fees unless we get you the workers’ compensation benefits you need and deserve. It’s as simple as that.
Call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s review your claim.
In situations involving workplace injuries resulting in long-term disability, our North Carolina Social Security disability lawyers can help with those claims, as well.
Results for Injured Workers
We’re proud of the results we’ve secured for injured North Carolina workers, including a recent $2.475 million settlement on behalf of a construction worker who was critically injured in a fall from a platform (see disclaimer below).
In that particular case, Riddle & Brantley fought aggressively on behalf of the injured victim and his loved ones, even setting up a guardianship and two trusts to ensure our client’s long-term care.
“I would recommend Riddle & Brantley to anyone who needs help with workers’ comp.”
–B. Fields, Riddle & Brantley client
Board-Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation
Our work injury team is led by Chris Brantley and Adam Smith, attorneys and Board-Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation law. These attorneys have been recognized by the NC State Bar for their expertise and experience handling these claims. Together, Chris and Adam have helped hundreds of North Carolinians get the benefits they deserve, totaling millions in compensation (see disclaimer below).
Chris and Adam are also members of many prestigious organizations recognizing their results and experience. Chris is a member of Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Adam is a member of Super Lawyers and has received the AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell — the organization’s highest rating for an attorney (see disclaimer below).
“Every time I’ve needed them, they were there for me.”
–Tyronnie T., Riddle & Brantley client
Please call 1-800-525-7111 today for a FREE, no-obligation consultation with an experienced injury lawyer handling workers’ comp claims in North Carolina.
Remember, workers’ comp benefits are most likely still available even if you were at-fault in the workplace accident.
Call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s review your claim.
Justice Counts for injured North Carolina workers and we would love to help however we can.
*** Disclaimer: The results mentioned are intended to illustrate the type of cases handled by the firm. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case.
*** Disclaimer: An attorney must meet certain requirements to join these organizations or receive these awards. For more information on Membership Criteria for Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100, The National Association of Distinguished Counsel, AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell, the Litigator Award, and other memberships, awards, and accolades, please visit our Membership Criteria page. These awards and memberships should not be construed as a promise or guarantee of a similar result. Each case is different and must be evaluated separately.