The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Monday, December 26, 2016

Court Says Drunkenness Not A Bar To Workers’ Compensation

Typically, if someone gets hurt because they are drunk on the job, they are not going to be able to get workers’ compensation to pay for their injuries. But a recent ruling from a New Jersey appeals court highlights an exception to the rule against covering injuries to people who are intoxicated. In order for compensation to be denied, drunkenness must be the only cause of an accident.

The Latest Case on Drunken Workplace Accidents

In Diaz v. National Retail Transportation, Inc., the court ruled that the plaintiff, Antonio Diaz, could still get compensation for his workplace injury even though he was drunk at the time of the accident because his drunkenness was not the only cause of his injury.

Diaz was hurt when a heavy jack, capable of lifting seven tons, fell on him as he was attempting to move it. Although he admitted that he had drank two whiskey and waters before coming into work, and his blood alcohol level shortly after the accident was .173, he insisted that the reason the jack fell over on him was because it had a flat tire.

A tire on the jack was indeed flat, but an expert hired by the company testified that a flat tire would not cause the equipment to fall over, only tilt.

The compensation judge, and then the appeals court, both decided that the expert’s testimony was not strong enough evidence to prove that Diaz’s drunkenness was the only cause of the accident because of the flat tire, so they allowed him to collect benefits.

Talk To An Attorney No Matter What

Although what happens in one case is no guarantee that identical results can be achieved in another case, this ruling strongly suggests that drunkenness is not the bar to compensation that many injured workers assume it is.

People who are injured on the job should not hesitate to speak with an attorney about the availability of workers’ compensation benefits no matter what circumstances were at play. Even if your employer is making it sound as if your injury is completely your own fault, you may be eligible for compensation. 


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