Work Comp Red Flag: Your Employer Says the Injury was Your Fault

As workers’ compensation attorneys, we have years of experience listening to employees recount their workplace injuries, and it is not uncommon to hear an employee tell us information that sends up a red flag.

Red Flag: My Employer Won’t Give me Work Comp Benefits Because I Caused my Workplace Injury

When there is a workplace accident, there is usually someone at fault. Maybe your co-worker spilled water on the floor and didn’t clean it up. Or, perhaps someone did not properly place a pallet, and it fell on you. But what happens when YOU are the one who caused the injury?

Did you fail to follow safety procedures? Were you simply moving too quickly and not exercising caution? These types of injuries happen frequently, especially in the healthcare or manufacturing industries.

One common example I see is a nurse, certified nursing assistant (CNA), or a personal care assistant (PCA) who gets injured while moving a patient alone. Many healthcare facilities require employees to move patients with the assistance of another employee or with a safety mechanism. In reality, when a patient needs to be moved quickly, there may be no one available to help. The facility may be short staffed. The safety mechanisms may not be nearby. And, in the end, the employee has to violate policy due to the urgency of moving the patient.

If that nurse, CNA, or PCA is injured in the process, are they eligible for workers’ compensation? Employers unfamiliar with the law may argue that the employee is not eligible for workman’s comp because of the policy violation. However, these employers are wrong.

Minnesota: No-Fault Worker’s Compensation

Minnesota’s workman’s compensation system is a no-fault system. This means that injured workers do not have to prove that their employer acted negligently (i.e. that your injury was your employer’s fault).

Instead, the employee only has to show that his or her workplace injury was the result of employment activities. The injury not only has to be because of your employment, but it also has to be “in the course of” your employment. Meaning—the judge will look at the time, place, and circumstance of your injury to determine if it was work-related.

Possible Exceptions

There are three situations where an employee may have a workplace injury, but they may not be able to get worker’s compensation. They are:

  1. Injuries occurred because you were intoxicated
  2. Injuries were intentionally self-inflicted, or
  3. Injuries were fraudulent or misrepresented

Notice that I said these situations may mean that you cannot get workers’ compensation. However, the facts of your specific circumstances will determine whether you really are or are not entitled to benefits. You should not rule out the possibility because there are exceptions to the exceptions.

Next Steps: Making a Plan of Action

Now that you know more information about Minnesota’s no-fault workers’ compensation system, you can see why we consider this a “red flag” when an employer claims you are at fault and you cannot get benefits.  Whenever one of these issues come up, it is an immediate indicator that more investigation needs to be done.

As always, if you have concerns about your workers’ compensation claim, you have been injured at work, or you recognize a “red flag” that may be applicable to you, our team of Minneapolis workers’ compensation attorneys are available to assist you. We are here to advocate for you today, so you have a better tomorrow.


[IMPORTANT NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: Current as of 02/23/2016. Because workers’ compensation law changes frequently, please note that this information is only current as of the date listed here. This blog is not intended to be comprehensive. It is only for educational purposes and provides a very broad overview. It is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. By using this website, you agree to these terms. We highly suggest that any injured employee contact a licensed attorney in your state immediately for a thorough investigation into your personal situation.]

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