Some workplace injuries are purely accidental, and no one is necessarily at fault. For example, you might suffer back injuries when lifting something heavy, though you have lifted such items many times before. On the other hand, some job-related injuries happen due to the negligence of others, which can include other employees at your workplace.
Does the cause of your injuries impact your right to workers’ compensation benefits? If a coworker caused your injuries, can you still recover for your medical expenses and lost wages? You should never hesitate to discuss your specific situation directly with a Los Lunas workers’ compensation lawyer.
Employee Negligence and Workers’ Compensation
The Workers’ Compensation Act in New Mexico provides rights to benefits for injured employees, no matter who was at fault for the accident and injuries. This means that the injured employee might have been negligent, the employer might have been negligent, or another employee might have been negligent in causing the injuries, and workers’ compensation benefits should still be available. Some ways that coworker negligence might lead to a workers’ compensation claim include:
- Another employee was driving a work truck while distracted and caused a crash, injuring you as a passenger
- An employee forgets to properly secure tools on scaffolding, and a tool falls and hits you on the ground below
What happens if a coworker’s injury-causing conduct was intentional? Under New Mexico law, the intentional acts of another employee that result in injury are generally considered to be accidental work accidents for the purposes of workers’ compensation eligibility. For example, if your coworker disagrees with something you said in a work meeting and pushes over your chair, and you suffer injuries, workers’ compensation should cover your losses.
When Coworker Conduct Might Not be Covered
As with most legal issues, there are exceptions to the rule that workers’ compensation should cover employee conduct. Examples of exceptions include the following:
- Coworker conduct outside of work - If you are at a happy hour after work or out to lunch on a lunch break, and your coworker’s conduct causes you harm, workers’ compensation might not apply.
- Altercations over non-work issues - If your coworker suspects that you were flirting with their significant other outside of work and punches you, workers’ compensation might not cover your losses since the matter did not stem from your work relationship.
- Horseplay between employees - If two employees are voluntarily goofing off together and engaging in “horseplay” that leads to injuries, any injuries likely will not be eligible for workers’ compensation. However, if your coworker was engaging in horseplay around you, and you were not a direct participant, your injuries might be covered.
Speak with a Los Lunas Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
At David C. Chavez Law Firm, we can evaluate how your workplace injuries happened and advise you whether you should have a valid workers’ compensation claim. Contact us online or call 505-865-9696 for a free consultation as soon as possible.