Under North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law, your claim cannot be denied on the grounds that you were doing something you should not have been doing. Your benefits can be reduced or increased by 10% depending on why you were doing something you should not have been doing. When you are partly responsible for your injuries it is called contributory negligence. Employers and their insurance companies cannot use contributory negligence as a defense in a Workers’ Compensation claim.Employer Responsibility for Your ActionsYour employer is responsible for training you and monitoring your activities. In most cases, your employer can be held responsible for any of your work-related actions. If you were operating machinery that you were not trained to operate, your employer is responsible for allowing you to do so. That has no bearing on whether you are eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits, but it can affect the amount of your benefits.North Carolina Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault system. You do not have to prove that your employer was responsible for causing your injury, nor do you have to defend yourself and prove that you were not responsible in order to be eligible for benefits. If you were injured on-the-job, you are eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits, no matter who was at fault.The exceptions to this are if you caused the injury on purpose, or if you were intoxicated at the time of the accident. Even if you were intoxicated, you are still eligible if your employer or supervisor gave you the alcohol or drugs to use while working.When Your Benefits May Be ReducedIf you fail to use a safety device or break a safety law, regulation, or policy, your benefits may be reduced by 10%. Again, we go back to employer responsibility here. Your benefits can only be reduced if the error was brought to your attention before your injury and you knowingly and willingly kept doing what you were doing in an unsafe manner and that caused your injury.Your claim cannot be denied for this.On the other hand, if your injury was caused by your employer’s knowing and willing failure to comply with safety laws and regulations your benefits can be increased by 10%.So, if you were operating machinery that you were not trained to operate, your employer told you not to operate that machinery until you were properly trained, and you chose to continue anyway causing your injury, your benefits could be reduced by 10%. If your employer knew that you were not trained, and training for use of that equipment was a legal requirement for operating it, but your employer had you do it anyway causing your injury, your benefits could be increased by 10%.
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