In this article, you will learn about:
- If either the employer or employee is “at fault,” how the case is handled differently.
- What exemptions, if any, there are in relation to when and where a workplace injury occurs.
What Happens If The Employee Is Partially At Fault For The Incident That Caused The Injury?
One of the great things about the North Carolina workers’ compensation law is that there’s no requirement that anybody prove negligence. Negligence of the injured worker isn’t a defense for the employer either. The whole point of the workers’ comp law was to pull the typical negligence analysis and personal injury aspect of negligence out of the equation completely. Our firm has never had a case where somebody was saying, “This is all the fault of the injured worker”, or, “My client should get more as an injured worker because the employer was negligent”. Negligence has nothing to do with the system as long as the injured worker did not intentionally hurt themselves and were not intoxicated at the time of the injury.
Obviously, if someone is intoxicated or is unable to control their mental or physical faculties, they’re not going to be able to get compensation for their injuries. However, besides cases like this, most workplace accidents will be covered regardless of fault. One scenario where the employer’s conduct may play a factor in fault of the worker’s injury is if the employer was in violation of the safety statute- and that violation contributed to the injured worker’s injury. In this case, the plaintiff would be entitled to a 10% increase in all benefits paid.
Generally speaking, liability is not a factor in these cases. This can be challenging for a lot of injured workers to accept because they are upset that the management of their company was negligent. If the company avoided a simple safety measure that could have prevented their injury, and the employee feels like their workers’ compensation doesn’t suffice for their employer’s mistake, they can feel undercompensated for their injury and that any settlement fails to completely resolve their situation.
What is good for the employee is that a bad decision on their behalf doesn’t prevent them from recovering workers’ compensation. That being said, it goes both ways for the employer as well. The employer is likewise not obligated to deal with any type of negligence claims against them. North Carolina is a no-fault system, so fault doesn’t apply when comes to workplace safety laws. However, if OSHA gets involved in a claim, contacting an attorney is key to see how to get access to the OSHA terms of investigation and violations, etc. Our firm is experienced in dealing with these types of workers’ compensation claims and would love the opportunity to go over options for your particular situation.
Does An Injured Worker Have To Be At Their Physical Place Of Employment To Qualify For Workers’ Compensation?
An injured worker does not have to be at their physical place of employment to qualify for worker’s compensation. There is no time or place required to be covered by workers’ compensation. As long as you are in the course and scope of your employment, whether that be on the road driving a truck, working on the factory floor, or even if at home conducting a work activity, you are covered by workers’ compensation.
You do not have to physically be at work for coverage, and it is not a matter of where you are as much as if you furthering your employer’s business by the activities that you’re doing. If you are working from home and you are spending company time on personal interests, then you are not going to be covered. Contrarily, if you’re at work actively participating in a work project and are injured, it is likely that you have a valid claim.
Another factor worth considering is that not only do you not have to be in the physical place but there are also many claims in which you don’t even have to be in the state of North Carolina. If the employer is a North Carolina company (this occurs with many companies, but most commonly with truck drivers), but the employee is injured outside of the state of North Carolina, then that claim can be brought in North Carolina. It is advisable for truck drivers and other employees out of state to look into their workers’ compensation benefit factors being out of state.
Take a scenario where an employer is based out of Pennsylvania, and their employee is driving through North Carolina as a truck driver and is injured. In this case, North Carolina has jurisdiction over that claim as well as Pennsylvania. Since the employer is based out of Pennsylvania, the truck driver needs to consider the workers’ comp laws in both North Carolina and Pennsylvania in order to properly pursue their workers’ compensation case. That being said, as an injured worker, if North Carolina law is better than the state you were injured (and usually it is), it is advisable to bring your claim to North Carolina because the North Carolina Industrial Commission has jurisdiction.