Cramer and Martinez

Free Consultation408-848-1113

7459 Monterey St., Suite A, Gilroy, CA 95020

How Can an Injured Worker Address Willful Misconduct by an Employer?

 Posted on April 14,2022 in Workers' Compensation

b2ap3_thumbnail_santa-clara-county-workers-comp-lawyer.jpgWhen a person is injured in a workplace accident or experiences injuries, illnesses, or other health issues that arose out of the work they had performed, they will usually be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Most of the time, these benefits will be available no matter who was responsible for an injury. An employee will not need to show that their employer acted negligently or otherwise caused them to suffer harm, and as long as they can show that their injuries were work-related, they will be able to receive medical benefits and temporary or permanent disability benefits. However, there are some situations where an employee may be able to receive additional compensation if they can demonstrate that they were injured because of “serious and willful” misconduct by their employer. 

What Is Serious and Willful Misconduct?

If an employer knowingly acted in a way that put their employees at a significant risk of harm, an injured employee may file a serious and willful misconduct petition with the Department of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). These types of claims may only be filed if a person has an open appeals case with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB). If a person can show that their employer engaged in misconduct that was considered to be serious and willful, the amount of workers’ comp benefits they can receive will be increased by 50. For example, if the total amount of a person’s benefits for a work-related injury were calculated to be $100,000, their employer would be required to pay an additional $50,000 in benefits on top of the original $100,000.

Showing that an employer’s actions were considered to be serious and willful can often be difficult. While these cases may involve situations where an employer purposely acted in a way meant to cause a person to suffer an injury or other forms of harm, most of the time, an employee’s claims will be based on safety violations by an employer. There are multiple types of violations that may occur, and to show that a specific violation was serious and willful, an employee will often need to provide evidence that the employer violated regulations put in place by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). 

An employer’s violation of one or more safety regulations may be demonstrated by showing that they were cited by Cal/OSHA, and their violation may be considered serious and willful if they failed to correct safety issues even after being cited or knowing about the potential risks to employees. Even if no citation had been issued, an employer’s actions may be considered to be serious and willful if there was an obvious safety issue that created a probability that an employee could be seriously injured, and the employer or their representative recklessly disregarded these risks and failed to take action to ensure that workers were protected from harm.

Contact Our Santa Clara County Workplace Injury Lawyers

If you have been injured while working, and you believe that this injury took place because your employer was grossly negligent or failed to take the proper steps to address known safety hazards, you may be able to receive additional benefits on top of the amount you would normally be entitled to receive through workers’ compensation. The lawyers of Cramer + Martinez can help you determine your options following a work injury, and we will fight on your behalf to make sure you receive the full compensation you deserve. Contact our Morgan Hill workers’ comp benefits attorneys at 408-848-1113 to schedule a complimentary consultation.


Share this post:
Back to Top