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Beyond negligence: serious and willful misconduct

As a California employer, having an employee sustain a minor, serious or fatal injury on the job may be at the top of your list of things you never want to happen. Sometimes, though, accidents do occur. In these cases, your workers’ compensation insurance should provide benefits for an employee’s medical costs and some of the lost wages, regardless of whether it was a working condition that caused the injury, or the employee’s own negligence or carelessness. However, at Sacks & Zolonz, LLP, we understand that there are times when dishonest employees make false claims in an attempt to hold the employer liable beyond what is covered by workers’ compensation.

If your employee alleges that you are guilty of serious and willful misconduct that led to his or her injury, that worker must be able to provide proof to the court. According to the Houston Chronicle, mere negligence on your part typically does not qualify. So, although there may be evidence that your company somehow failed to correct a situation that led to an injury, that is not likely to be enough to hold you to further responsibility. Instead, the employee would need to show that the act was deliberate, with a reckless indifference for the worker’s safety.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration creates rules and regulations for workplaces, and enforces them. Your responsibilities to your employees do include maintaining a safe work environment, and failing to correct violations could lead to injuries that leave you open to litigation. More information about employers’ rights is available on our web page.

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