Alabama Workers Compensation What is Willful Misconduct
If you work in Alabama and have suffered a work injury, you are probably entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation laws; however, if the injured worker was injured as a result of engaging in willful misconduct, then the injured worker will be prevented from obtaining any such benefits. This is because Alabama Code §25-5-51 specifically states that “no compensation shall be allowed for an injury or death caused by the willful misconduct of the employee, by the employee’s intention to bring about the injury or death of himself or herself or of another, his or her willful failure or willful refusal to use safety appliances provided by the employer or by and accident due to the injured employee being intoxicated from the use of alcohol or being impaired by illegal drugs.”
No one argues that a worker who engages in foolish and risky behavior, or who is intoxicated, should be entitled to benefit from their actions, but in the majority of cases we have dealt with, the defense of “willful misconduct” simply is not warranted. Just because after a job injury the injured worker fails a drug test does not mean that they have forfeited their right to workers compensation benefits. Alcohol and drugs (both legal and illegal) can remain in a person’s blood stream for days or weeks. The fact that a worker engaged in improper activities on Saturday night does not mean that they cannot recover for injuries which occurred when a scaffold they were working on collapsed. The accident/injury must be due to the worker being under the influence.
Along the same line, if a worker is injured because of an inadvertent, unconscious or involuntary violation of a safety rule, the worker is not prohibited from seeking and receiving workers’ compensation benefits. The injured worker’s actions must have involved some deliberate violation of a rule or a reckless disregard of the same.
If you have suffered a job injury and been told that due to some willful misconduct on your part you are not entitled to any workers compensation benefits, don’t give up. Contact and speak with one of the experienced Alabama Job Injury attorneys at Powell and Denny for a free consultation where we can discuss the specific facts in your case and try to answer the questions you have about your right to Alabama Workers Comp benefits.
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Alabama Workers’ Compensation What is Willful Misconduct