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I was injured at work, but it wasn’t my employer’s fault, can I still get workers’ compensation benefits?

Yes. One of the primary benefits to the workers’ compensation program is that it is a no-fault system, meaning that an employee does not need to prove that their employer – or anyone else – was negligent in causing their injuries. Of course, there are a few exceptions. In the following situations, an employee may not be able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim:

  • Intoxication or substance abuse: While an employee does not need to prove that another person was at fault to succeed in a New Jersey workers’ compensation claim, any injuries that were the result of the employee’s intoxication or substance abuse are not covered. And while New Jersey courts have been willing to enforce an employee’s privacy rights by forbidding random drug testing of most employees, a workplace accident may give an employer cause to conduct a drug test.
  • Horseplay and fighting: In most cases, if a fellow employee causes another worker’s injuries, the injured worker will still be able to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. However, if the injured employee was engaging in horseplay or fighting at the time he or she was hurt, the worker may not be able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. Of course, this would not include a situation in which an employee was hurt as an innocent bystander while other employees were fighting. Fights that break out related to workplace issues may still fall within workers’ compensation, as well.
  • Recreational activities: A workers’ compensation claim is designed to cover workplace accidents, not necessarily those that occur away from work. Thus, injuries that occur at a work-related social event, including company picnics, holiday parties, or happy hours, might not be covered by workers’ compensation. That said, if the employee was required to attend the event, the employer benefitted from the employee’s presence at the event, or the injury occurred on company grounds during business hours, a workers’ compensation claim may still be appropriate.
  • Commuting to work: One of the biggest surprises to many workers is that injuries occurring during an employee’s commute are not covered under workers’ compensation. This include both traveling to work and traveling home from work, and is not limited to driving but also includes injuries that occur on public transportation or while walking. However, if an employee is provided a company car, were running an errand for their employer, or do not have a fixed job site, an on-the-job car accident may be covered.

Importantly, even if a workers’ compensation claim against an employer is not possible, there may be the possibility of pursuing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. Injured workers can pursue a third-party personal injury claim against any non-employer party, regardless of whether they qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, many of the reasons for the exceptions around workers’ compensation eligibility are because there are other avenues of relief for accident victims. For example, if an employee is involved in a car accident on their way to work, they may not be eligible for a workers’ compensation claim, but they can bring a claim against the at-fault driver.

Contact a New Jersey Workers’ Comp Attorney Today

The law firm of Petrillo & Goldberg has assembled a compassionate team of advocates who have dedicated their career to ensuring that New Jersey injury accident victims recover the compensation they deserve. The injury advocates at Petrillo & Goldberg deal with the insurance companies so employees can focus on recovering, returning to work and moving forward with their life. To learn more, call 856-249-9288 to schedule a free consultation.

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The highly competent lawyers at Petrillo and Goldberg represent clients with personal injury claims, workers compensation claims, slip-and-fall cases and automobile accident victims. We work for you, and take our job of getting the best possible results for you seriously.

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