You Broke the Rules at Work and Got Hurt. What Next?
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You Broke the Rules at Work and Got Hurt. What Next?

You broke the rules at work and got hurt, and now you do not know what to do. If you report your injury, your boss will discipline you for breaking the rules. If you do not report it, you will have to pay for medical care and potentially lie to your job.

Should You Report an Injury that You Caused?

When you need workers’ compensation to pay for medical treatment and lost wages, you should always report your injury. The truth is, you may qualify for benefits even if you broke the rules. If you do not report your injury in a timely fashion, there is no possibility of getting benefits.

However, you cannot receive benefits if you intentionally self-inflicted your injury. But most injuries from breaking the rules are not intentional. Workers often forget to put on safety equipment, mistakenly hit the wrong button, or do not read the instructions. Workers’ compensation judges have still allowed workers like you to receive benefits.

When Do Rules Violations Mean No Workers’ Comp Benefits?

For a judge to say that a worker cannot get benefits for a rules violation, the violation must meet a strict test. The judge must find that:

  • The worker committed a violation of an express prohibition from doing a specific act;
  • The violation of the prohibition was not reasonably foreseeable by the employer; and
  • The violation of the prohibition resulted in injury.

For example, in one case a worker walked on a pallet and got injured. His workplace safety rules expressly said that employees should not walk on pallets. When the court decided the case, it said that the employer’s discipline of employees (or not) for violating safety rules was a factor in whether the employer could have foreseen the rules violation. (Otto v. Midwest of Cannon Falls, 59 W.C.D. 25, 36 (Minn. WCCA 1999).)

Keep in mind, the insurance company may deny benefits to you right after you report the injury. You probably will need to hire a lawyer to argue your case to a judge. Your lawyer will look for evidence that there was no express prohibition against the action you took. Your employer may not have been able to foresee you would “break the rules” because the action you took is not very hazardous. Or your employer might consistently fail to discipline employees for breaking the rule.

Finally, it is possible that your employer will write you up or even fire you for breaking the rule. Your employer cannot fire you for requesting workers’ compensation, but it can fire you for violating workplace policies. (Minn. Stat. § 176.82.) If you believe there was retaliation because you asked for benefits, talk to a lawyer.

Need help getting workers’ compensation for an injury due to breaking the rules? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.