(Come hear me speak at a CEU with Dr. Halperin in Lake Mary after work on 10/24, flyer attached)
Nothing frustrates an employer more than a claimant that is injured while breaking or ignoring a rule. In some instances there may be a defense or partial defense to the claim, and in other situations, unfortunately, the claim will be compensable.
As a starting point, workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system. That means that even if the accident is the claimant’s fault for engaging in “less than fully thought-out actions”, benefits are due. In exchange for the no-fault nature, employers have the protection of the WC system, and immunity from personal injury lawsuits in almost all instances.
Of course each scenario stands on its own, but here are some possible defenses and issues for breaking of an employer’s rule:
- Deviation/horseplay- Based on the caselaw, the deviation has to be substantial in time and not just momentary to take the claimant out of the course and scope of employment.
-If the claimant was performing work, then a deviation would not apply. For example, going up on a ladder to accomplish a work task even if the employer has a rule against doing so. However a security guard getting in his own car and chasing a trespasser off premises down the street might be a deviation.
- Intentional injury- Based on the caselaw, it has to be an intentional injury or one that the claimant should have known would have led to an injury, like punching a wall.
- Safety reduction- If the claimant violates an employer safety rule that is followed and enforced, then its possible you could take a 25% reduction off of indemnity.
Each case is factually different. Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Morgan Indek | Partner