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Does fault or intoxication always bar workers’ compensation?

On Behalf of | Sep 18, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

If you have suffered an injury at work in Louisiana, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation — even if you were at fault for the accident and, in some cases, even if you were intoxicated when it occurred. You may also be able to collect workers’ compensation for mental injuries as well as physical.

Your eligibility will depend on Louisiana’s definitions of qualifying injuries and conditions.

Defining injuries and occupational illnesses

Workers’ compensation in Louisiana relies on the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act as a legal framework. This act defines an accident as an “unexpected or unforeseen actual, identifiable, precipitous event happening suddenly or violently, with or without human fault, and directly producing at the time objective findings of an injury with is more than simply a gradual deterioration or progressive degeneration.”

In short, your mental or physical injury may qualify if a doctor or professional can clearly verify the injury and if the injury was due to an identifiable incident at work. Many injuries develop over time. For example, overuse can cause joint injuries or arthritis, but these may not qualify as an injury in Louisiana.

This does not mean that you may not collect compensation from these, but you will need to demonstrate that the condition qualifies as an occupational disease rather than an injury. The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act defines occupational diseases as illnesses that you can directly trace to work conditions or exposure.

Considering fault and intoxication

Louisiana law will allow you to collect workers’ compensation regardless of fault, so long as you did not cause the injury intentionally, willfully or through horseplay. In other words, as long as your injury was attributable to the exercise of your occupation, it generally does not matter whether you, your employer or another party caused it.

Intoxication will disqualify a worker from collecting benefits under most circumstances. However, if your employer provided alcoholic beverages or encouraged you to consume them, Louisiana is one of a few states that allows workers to still collect. Similarly, if your intoxication is due to a legal prescription that you used according to the doctor’s direction, you may be able to dispute your claim.


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