The whole purpose of workers' compensation in Louisiana is to help injured workers get the medical care and benefits they need, regardless of fault. Generally, this means that you may be entitled to workers' comp benefits even if your carelessness or negligence led to, or contributed to, your work-related injuries. In fact, nowhere in Louisiana's Workers' Compensation Act does it mention an exclusion for careless workers.
However, while you may still qualify for workers' comp even if you are careless, there are some extreme examples of willful and deliberate misconduct that go well beyond general carelessness or neglect - misconduct that may make you ineligible for benefits. These forms of misconduct may include situations in which:
- You willfully intend to injure yourself or another
- You are intoxicated when the work-related injury occurs, unless, of course, your employer provides the alcohol and encourages you to drink
- You are the "initial physical aggressor" in an unprovoked physical attack, unless excessive force is used against you in retaliation
It is important to remember, however, that, depending on the circumstances, other forms of misconduct may also make you ineligible for workers' comp benefits. In any case, though, your employer has the burden of proving you willfully and wantonly intended to injure yourself.
Help is available
As you can imagine, all of these various laws can be quite difficult to navigate, not to mention the information outlined above barely scratches the surface of what you need to know should your employer claim you are to blame for your injuries. This is why it is always best to contact an experienced workers' comp attorney as soon as possible. A skilled lawyer can explain your legal options and help ensure your rights are protected.