Can I Get Worker’s Comp Benefits If My Injury Was Self-Inflicted?

worker harming themselves by accidentIf you have been injured on the job, you may be able to get worker’s comp benefits to help cover reasonable medical expenses and disability/wage loss while in recovery. But what happens when a worker causes his or her own injuries? In certain cases, these injuries could still be covered under the Wisconsin worker’s compensation system.

Our legal team at Sigman Janssen has helped many injured workers obtain the benefits they need. Our initial consultations are completely free and come with no risk or obligation to have us represent you.

Worker’s Compensation is a No-Fault System

Wisconsin worker’s compensation is a no-fault system, which means you could recover benefits for a job-related injury regardless of who was at fault. Employees injured during the course and scope of their employment are typically covered by their employer’s worker’s compensation insurance.

However, some employees may be concerned about not being able to qualify for worker’s comp benefits if their injury was self-inflicted.

Under Wisconsin law, a self-inflicted injury may be covered if it was accidental and not intentional. Intentional means that the injury was inflicted with the mindset of causing self-harm. Intentionally inflicting harm is generally not considered within the scope of employment and therefore, non-compensable. However, an employer must prove that the injury was intentional when it occurred.

Self-Inflicted Injuries Due to a Mistake or General Negligence

Sometimes an employee injures himself or herself by accident. Accidents can happen in any type of work. This does not mean an employee cannot obtain worker’s comp benefits because he or she contributed to the accident. Injuries due to an error or mistake could still be covered by worker’s compensation system. This includes general negligence, such as an employee being ignorant of proper safety protocols.

If your employer or his or her insurance company tries to use your fault as a reason to deny your worker’s comp claim, having an experienced lawyer on your side would be beneficial. He or she can help you gather the evidence needed to show that your injury occurred at work, even if it was your fault. 

Self-Inflicted Injuries Due to Misconduct or Gross Negligence

An employee will have a harder time obtaining worker’s comp benefits if he or she was injured due to misconduct or gross negligence. In other words, incidents caused by acting against company policy.

This may include:

  • Working while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Blatantly not following safety regulations
  • Purposely misusing dangerous machinery or equipment
  • Fighting or otherwise engaging in horseplay

If your misconduct is deemed outside of your work duties, any resulting injuries may not be covered.

Injuries Covered by Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation

Worker’s comp covers most job-related injuries. The Wisconsin worker’s compensation system defines an injury as being any physical or mental harm resulting from a workplace accident or occupational disease. This can include damage to artificial limbs as well as dental damage.

Examples of physical harm could be broken bones, fractures, crushing injuries, burns, full or partial paralyses and disfigurement. Examples of mental harm could be a nervous disorder, traumatic neurosis and hysteria. If the injury is mental without physical trauma, you and your lawyer will need to prove that it was caused by something more than stress and tensions experienced by employees each day.

What if a Self-Inflicted Injury Results in Death?

If an employee willfully inflicted self-harm and it results in death, his or her employer will not be liable to pay death benefits to the family. Self-inflicted injuries, including suicide in extreme cases, are incidents generally considered not in the scope of employment.

However, the family of a deceased employee may be compensated if a chain of causation can be proven between the injury and the act that resulted in death. A job-related injury must have dominated the employee’s mind to make it devoid of normal judgement and cause the act to happen.

For example, an employee injured in an industrial accident had pain so severe death was the only relief possible. A preexisting injury that was made worse by the job may also lead to self-harm.

Set Up a Free Initial Consultation Today

To learn if you have a valid claim, set up a free initial consultation with a licensed Appleton worker’s compensation lawyer from our firm today. We are available anytime to guide you through the worker’s compensation process to help you recover the benefits you need.

There is no risk in calling us to learn more about your rights and no obligation to move forward after meeting with us. We do not receive payment for our legal services unless you obtain a recovery.

Sigman Janssen. A Firm You Can Trust. Ph: (877) 888-5201