Serious and Willful Misconduct Claims
While a Workers’ Compensation claim is usually the only remedy available for a work-related injury, sometimes the circumstances surrounding the injury may indicate the potential for an additional claim to be filed directly against the employer for an injury occurring from Serious and Willful misconduct.
A Serious & Willful (S&W) claim exists when an employer negligently fails to provide a safe place to work. This can occur when an employer fails to address a known workplace hazard, or fails to provide adequate safeguards to protect the safety and health of its employees against known risks. However, for an injured worker to prevail on a S&W claim, it must be proven that the employer’s conduct not only contributed to the injury, but that the employer was aware of the hazard and deliberately failed to take appropriate steps to address that hazard. If an injured worker is able to meet this burden for a S&W claim, the employer itself is ordered to pay an additional amount to the injured worker that is equal to half of the total benefits awarded to the injured worker for their underlying Workers’ Compensation claim.
S&W Claims and Covid-19
Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the serious and deadly risk of Covid-19 infections has been widely known. Countless efforts were made by local, state, and national agencies to attempt to curb the devastating spread of Covid-19. These steps included everything from state-wide shutdowns, to guidelines and recommendations for social distancing, hand washing, and use of protective equipment, such as gloves and masks. In this unprecedented environment, with the known risks associated with Covid-19 infections, employers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment, which may include supplying masks and gloves, and taking precautions to ensure workers can maintain social distancing. Failure to take steps like these to address the known hazards of Covid-19 may be a basis for filing a S&W claim.
To learn more, contact us to schedule a free case evaluation with one of the experienced attorneys at Ford & Wallach offers a free case evaluation. Call 213.380.3140.