Can Willful Negligence Affect My Right To Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

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Negligence plays a role in most on-the-job injuries that qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits under New Jersey law. In fact, one of the reasons for Workers’ Compensation is to help ensure that injured workers receive the payments they need regardless of fault. Even injuries caused by willful negligence can qualify for benefits — as long as the willfulness was on the part of someone other than the injured worker.

In an effort to keep the public informed about the legislation that applies to injured worker claims, the State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Workers’ Compensation compiled the provisions of Workers’ Compensation Law into a 150-page online booklet. This publication states that even injuries sustained because of the horseplay of another worker qualifies for benefits. However, willful negligence or false claims on the part of the injured worker can result in denial of benefits, such as in the following situations:

  • Intentionally self-inflicted injuries
  • The use of alcohol or unlawful controlled substances at the time of injury
  • Making false or misleading statements when applying for benefits

Unfortunately, employer and insurance company investigations do not always accurately reveal the true causes of a workplace injury. For example, the horseplay of a co-worker can easily be interpreted as participation on the part of the injury victim, resulting in unfair claim denial.

Even though Workers’ Compensation is supposed to protect workers, employers and insurance companies have a stake in keeping claims experience down and benefit payments low.