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What role does fault play in a workers’ compensation claim?

On Behalf of | Jan 23, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

Workers can get hurt in very generic incidents, such as a slip-and-fall. They could also end up hurt due to unique job hazards, such as exposure to bodily fluids in a hospital or dangerous chemicals in a manufacturing facility. A worker who requires significant medical support and who may need to take a leave of absence after their injury on the job could potentially apply for workers’ compensation benefits. New Mexico employers typically need to provide coverage for their employees that can pay for their treatment expenses if they get hurt on the job and lose wages while they are unable to work.

Many workers who might qualify for workers’ compensation coverage feel anxious about applying. They worry that their employer or their coworkers might judge them or that they won’t qualify for benefits. For example, the worker might blame themselves for the injury that they incurred because they know they made a mistake.

Can an employee’s fault affect their eligibility for workers’ compensation coverage in New Mexico?

Fault typically doesn’t matter

Worker mistakes can be minor but may lead to lasting consequences. Wearing the wrong kinds of shoes in a busy working environment might mean that someone suffers a crushing injury to their toes or is more likely to fall while taking care of customers. A moment of distraction while working in a factory might mean that someone makes a timing mistake and puts their hand into a machine when they shouldn’t.

If workers became ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits because of mistakes on the job, the coverage would not offer very robust protection. Most accidental injuries occur due to mistakes and oversights. Workers’ compensation laws in New Mexico protect employees from allegations that they do not deserve benefits because they are at fault for an incident.

The coverage available is a type of no-fault protection. Workers neither need to claim that they are blameless for the incident nor do they need to prove that their employer was somehow at fault for their injury. What matters is that they got hurt on the job or acquired a medical condition because of their job responsibilities.

The only times when fault might influence benefit eligibility is when there was an intention to hurt oneself or an injury caused by someone’s chemical impairment on the job. Otherwise, a worker’s momentary lapse in judgment should not prevent them from requesting disability benefits or health coverage.

Ultimately, learning about the New Mexico rules for workers’ compensation coverage, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, may benefit those who are concerned about whether they are eligible after an incident at work.