Workers’ Compensation Benefits and FaultWorkers’ compensation exists to protect both employers and employees. Before the modern system was in place, American employers and injured workers both faced stressful, expensive legal cases. Employers were forced to spend valuable time and resources in the courts, while injured workers had to prove the employer was responsible for their injuries. Both sides were drained of time and money, and neither benefited. Today, the workers’ compensation system allows a main concession for each side to ease this burden. Employers are typically shielded from litigation, meaning it is difficult for employees to sue them in court. Injured workers can obtain benefits regardless of fault.

Ohio Workers’ Compensation Benefits Exist Regardless of Fault

Ohio, like other states, operates a no-fault workers’ compensation system. This means that fault does not affect benefits; the commission does not consider who is responsible for an illness or injury when deciding if a worker is eligible for compensation. The same consideration is given to every claim, regardless of who may be to blame for the accident or injury. Any injury sustained by qualifying workers in the course of employment are typically covered.

Many workers may fail to even attempt a claim with workers’ compensation because they worry about repercussions regarding fault. They may have been responsible for their injuries and assume this makes them ineligible for benefits. This is simply not true, and important care and compensation could be lost unnecessarily by failing to file a claim.

Exceptions to the No-Fault Workers’ Compensation System

While workers’ compensation contains the key no-fault provision, it has some limits. Workers are not able to behave in any irresponsible manner and still obtain medical care and wage replacement benefits. Some of the main exceptions to the no-fault system include those that involve:

  • Alcohol or drugs. Employees under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the injury may be denied benefits. Note, though, that the employer must prove both that the employee was under the influence during the injury and that the alcohol or drug use led directly to the injury.
  • Self-harm. Employees who purposely inflict injury on themselves may collect workers’ compensation benefits. Sometimes, maybe work-related stress contributed to the self-harm, and workers may obtain care and compensation in those rare situations.
  • Express violation of company policy. Employers provide employees with guidelines, rules, and safety equipment for a reason. If employees fail to adhere to known and widely-followed company standards, they may be barred from benefits.
  • Fighting or horseplay. Typically, injuries sustained when employees are fighting or engaging in horseplay would not be covered by workers’ compensation. Sometimes, employers allow this behavior or simply take no action to stop it. In those cases, it may still be possible to obtain benefits based on the culture of the business.

Know Your Rights After a Work-Related Illness or Injury

Many employees and their families are unsure of their rights after a work illness or injury. They may worry about fault and how it can affect a claim. The Ohio workers’ compensation system, though, ensures that workers can obtain benefits regardless of fault. Even the exceptions noted above create specific burdens on the employer, who would have to prove that the injured worker acted so as to not warrant benefits.

An experienced Ohio attorney can help you get informed of all your rights and help you find the most effective way forward. At Monast Law Office, our experienced legal team is here to answer your questions and start you obtaining the compensation you deserve. Call our Upper Arlington office today to speak with a member of our team and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.


James Monast
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Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbus, Ohio