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Distracted employees getting hurt may still get temporary wages

If an employee lost sufficient work days as a result of an injury he or she may have caused, there may be wage benefits available. North Carolina crafted its workers’ compensation law to cover employees without regard to fault, generally speaking.

However, the right to wage coverage is not absolute. North Carolina’s statute §97-12 provides for the limited circumstances when a worker’s own behavior or fault can prevent workers’ compensation insurance benefits from being due. Thus, mere negligence, such as the employee feeling distracted or otherwise not being perfectly careful in his or her work and will likely not rise to the level of depriving the employee of coverage. However, more serious behavior can.

Working while intoxicated may bar benefits

For instance, if employees are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and that consumption causes the injury, they would not be eligible for benefits. The influence must have been sufficiently high to cause them to lose their typical control of their body or mental capacities.

However, if their employer or supervisor provided them the alcohol or other substance, then they could be eligible. Also, if the influencing substance was a legally prescribed medication, that too would also be an exception to the ineligibility for workers' compensation coverage.

Intentional injury may bar benefits

Further, if the employees purposely sought to hurt themselves on the job, they would lose eligibility for those temporary wage replacement benefits for the time they missed from work. If they willfully decided to not use a safety apparatus or fulfill a duty of safety required by statute for their job duty, or by the employer’s policy, they will lose part of the compensation they may otherwise be eligible for. There is typically a 10 percent reduction.

However, if their injuries were the result of their employer not abiding by statutory requirements, then they may be eligible for a 10 percent increase in their compensation.

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