Employers and workers’ compensation insurance companies will look for any reason to deny your workers’ compensation claim. If you were injured in a work-related car crash and you were not wearing your seat belt, you may wonder if this will hurt your chances of receiving compensation.
However, while not wearing a seat belt could increase your risk for suffering a serious injury, it may not affect your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. That said, this could be a complex issue – what if your employer has a policy requiring the use of a seat belt when doing work-related driving?
You should strongly consider talking to an experienced lawyer if you are in this situation. He or she can help determine your eligibility for benefits and guide you through each step of the process, including an appeal if your claim was denied.
You may have heard this before, but each workers’ compensation claim is unique. It is difficult for an experienced Bakersfield workers’ compensation lawyer to determine if you have a valid claim without meeting with you and learning more about what happened.
In general, if you suffered a work-related injury you should be eligible for benefits, even if you had a preexisting condition. (Benefits would either cover new injuries or the aggravation of your existing injuries.) If you drive for your job, such as to make a delivery or to go on a business trip, you may be eligible for benefits if a crash occurs, even if you are at fault. You do not necessarily have to be driving a company car to be qualified as doing a work-related activity.
This is where things can get complicated. If your employer has a clearly stated policy that says you are required to wear a seat belt, and this policy is enforced, it is possible you are ineligible for benefits. This could also be true if you violated another rule that was clearly stated and enforced, such as wearing a hard hat or taking other specific safety precautions.
The rule may not even be from your employer, it could be a federal or state law. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires commercial truck drivers to wear a seat belt. It is possible this would make you ineligible for benefits if you were injured in a crash and you were not wearing a seat belt.
One potential defense against not wearing a seat belt or violating a safety regulation is that it was not intentional. If your employer or its insurance company can prove the violation was intentional, you may be ineligible.
It is important to take reasonable safety precautions to help prevent an injury in the workplace, such as not starting a fight or horsing around. Injuries from these types of incidents may not be covered by the workers’ compensation system. Not only will this help ensure you can continue working, it could also help protect a potential workers’ compensation claim.
Have questions about your workers’ compensation claim or need to file an appeal?
Berry, Smith & Bartell has a proven track record of recovering compensation for work injury victims. We have extensive knowledge of the process and eligibility criteria. Our goal is to recover the benefits you need to help you during this difficult time.
The consultation is free and there are no obligations. Our lawyers are paid on contingency. This means we do not get paid unless you receive benefits.