Intoxication and Workplace Injuries
Generally, employees who suffer work-related injuries are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of whether negligence led to their harm. There are exceptions, though, such as when an employee’s injury is caused by the employee’s intoxication. An employer attempting to deny an employee workers’ compensation benefits due to intoxication faces a high burden of proof. In many instances, even if the employer can show that the employee consumed alcohol prior to the injury, the employee may be owed benefits. If your employer argues that you are not owed workers’ compensation benefits due to intoxication, it is critical to speak to an attorney who can protect your interests. The capable New Jersey work injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have ample experience handling complicated claims. We understand the connection between intoxication and workplace injuries.Intoxication and Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act, employers are obligated to provide benefits to employees who suffer harm due to accidental injuries that occur during the course of employment and arise out of work-related activities. The goal of the Act is to afford workers’ compensation coverage to as many employees as possible, so injured employees may generally recover benefits regardless of fault. Certain factors bar the recovery of benefits, however, such as an employee’s intoxication at the time of an injury. Regarding intoxication and workplace injuries, the Act provides that when an employee’s intoxication is the proximate cause of an employee’s injury or death, the employer does not owe the employee workers’ compensation benefits.
While the Act does not explicitly state that intoxication must be the only cause of an employee’s harm, in assessing the scope of the Act, the New Jersey courts have held that an employee’s intoxication will act to bar the recovery of workers’ compensation benefits only if it is the sole cause of the accident that led to the employee’s harm. In other words, an employer that argues that an employee was intoxicated at the time of his or her accident and should be denied workers’ compensation benefits must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the employee’s injury was produced solely by his or her intoxication. This means that the employer must show that it is more likely than not that not only was the employee intoxicated at the time of the accident but also no other factors contributed to the employee’s harm. Thus, if an employee and a work injury attorney can establish that the evidence shows that the employee was not intoxicated when the accident occurred, or that other elements such as stress, unsafe conditions, or any other factor brought about the accident, the employee can recover benefits.
Employees who successfully refute that their injuries were solely caused by their intoxication may be eligible to recover medical benefits in the form of treatment that is reasonable and necessary to address their injuries. Employees who cannot work due to their injuries may recover income benefits as well in the form of temporary disability benefits. Employees who are permanently disabled may also be eligible to recover permanent total or partial disability benefits after the cessation of their temporary disability benefits.Speak with a Proficient Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workers’ compensation claims that involve allegations that an employee consumed alcohol before his or her injury can be complicated. If you suffered a workplace injury, and your employer denied you benefits based on your alleged intoxication, you should speak with an attorney regarding your rights. The workers’ compensation lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are skilled at managing complex workers’ compensation cases involving intoxication and workplace injuries. We frequently represent injured people in workers’ compensation matters in Burlington, Atlantic, Bergen, Camden, Hudson, Essex, Middlesex, Mercer, Ocean, Somerset, Monmouth, Passaic, and Union Counties, as well as elsewhere in New Jersey. We can be reached through our form online or at 877-450-8301 to schedule a meeting.