Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Self-Inflicted Injuries?

What Workers’ Comp Benefits Cover  

Workers' compensation is a critical part of the employer-employee relationship, providing financial protection and medical coverage for workers who sustain injuries on the job. These benefits typically cover a range of expenses and financial needs that may arise following such incidents. First off, medical expenses are usually covered, helping the injured worker pay for hospital visits, medications, surgeries, and other necessary treatments. 

Income replacement is another critical component, where a portion of the workers' lost wages due to their inability to work is compensated. Disability payments also come into play if the worker is unable to return to work either temporarily or permanently due to their injury or illness. 

In the unfortunate event of a permanent injury, workers' compensation provides special compensation to acknowledge the life-changing impact of such injuries. When needed, rehabilitation expenses are often covered to support the worker's recovery process, which can include physical therapy and other forms of treatment. In some cases, vocational training or job placement services may be provided to help the worker transition into a new role or career if they are unable to return to their previous job. 

Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Self-Inflicted Injuries?  

Workers' compensation is designed to protect employees who suffer injuries or illnesses during their employment. However, when it comes to self-inflicted injuries, the boundaries become blurry, and the question arises—are employees entitled to claim benefits when they have caused their own injuries? 

Firstly, it is crucial to distinguish between intentional and unintentional self-inflicted injuries. Most workers' compensation systems are not designed to cover injuries that an employee intentionally inflicts upon themselves.  

For example, if an employee deliberately harms themselves for the purpose of claiming workers' compensation, the claim will be denied. However, in some cases, a claim can still be made if the injury was intentional, and the claimant injured themselves because of job-related mental health struggles.  

On the other hand, unintentional self-inflicted injuries may be covered under certain circumstances. For instance, if an employee accidentally cuts their hand while using a piece of machinery at work, they may be eligible for compensation. However, your employer may try to argue that they offered proper training concerning safety protocols and equipment use.  

If you have suffered a self-inflicted injury at work, it is in your best interest to discuss your case with an experienced worker’s compensation attorney. They can advise you of your legal rights and options and about whether you have a strong claim.  

What Jobs Are At-Risk for Self-Inflicted Injuries?  

Workplace safety is an essential component of any job, yet some professions present a higher risk for self-inflicted injuries. Several professions have been identified as having a high risk for self-inflicted injuries and suicides, including farming, fishing, construction, and healthcare workers. 

The stress associated with these jobs, combined with easy access to potentially lethal means, contributes to the higher risk levels. For instance, farmers and fishermen often work in isolation and face significant financial pressures, leading to increased stress levels. Construction workers, on the other hand, may be exposed to hazardous environments that increase the risk of physical harm.  

Types of Injuries Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation  

Not all injuries are covered under this system, and as we mentioned intentionally self-inflicted injuries often are not covered. Other types of non-covered injuries include:  

  • Injuries outside of work hours. Workers' compensation is designed to cover injuries that occur during work hours or while performing work duties. If an employee gets injured outside of work, such as during a personal errand or a weekend activity, this would not be covered. 

  • Horseplay-related injuries. Injuries resulting from horseplay, or non-work-related activities, are typically not covered. This includes injuries sustained from pranks, fights, or other non-professional behavior. 

  • Drug or alcohol impairment. If an employee is injured while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their claim may be denied. This is based on the principle that the employee's impaired state, not the work environment, was the primary cause of the injury. 

  • Failures to notify. If an employee fails to notify their employer about an injury in a timely manner, they may forfeit their right to workers' compensation benefits. 

  • Injuries from unknown causes. If the cause of an injury or illness cannot be directly or indirectly linked to the employee's job, it may not be covered. 

Talk with Our Experienced Workers’ Comp Attorneys  

With decades of collective experience, the attorneys at McHargue & Jones, LLC are here and prepared to help clients pursue workers’ compensation benefits. If you or a loved one injured yourself on the job, we can advise you on whether you have a claim and about your next steps.  

Still have questions concerning a workers’ compensation claim? Contact our team online or via phone at (312) 739-0000 and speak with a member of our team.