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Can I Still Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits if I Was Not Wearing Safety Equipment and Was Injured?


On-the-job accidents can often be avoided if businesses take proper safety measures to protect their workers, and workers take proper safety measures to protect themselves. Workplace safety involves many different factors, and protective equipment and gear is one of the most important. A helmet, protective suit, or pair of goggles has the potential to prevent injury in the workplace. When workers are not outfitted with protective gear, injuries can result.

If you have been injured in a work accident and were not wearing protective equipment at the time you were hurt, you may be wondering if a lack of safety gear will impact your ability to recover workers’ compensation benefits. The answer will depend on the details of your case.

Workers’ Compensation is a No-Fault System

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that the “fault” of who caused an injury is often not considered when allocating benefits. This differs from personal injury claims, in which liability often directly affects the outcome of a case.

Therefore, employees are not often penalized if their own negligence causes a work injury. So, failing to wear safety equipment  — although it is technically negligent  — may not prevent you from recovering workers’ compensation benefits.

Although employee negligence is generally excused in workers’ compensation cases, workers can be barred from receiving benefits if they were engaging in misconduct when their injuries occurred. Foregoing safety equipment can be excused as simple negligence; for example, if an employee forgets to wear optional safety goggles on a worksite and gets hurt. There are some other examples that may qualify as misconduct, though. Some workers are required by law to wear certain safety gear, and failing to do so could be considered as a safety violation. In these cases, the injury victim may be unable to recover workers’ compensation benefits.

Employer Negligence, Lack of Preparedness, and Safety Violations

The “no-fault” characteristic of the workers’ compensation system applies to employers as well. In most cases, employers cannot be held liable for an employee’s injuries. However, it is possible for an employer to be held accountable outside of the workers’ compensation system if their negligence directly caused harm to a worker.

In industries that have legally-mandated safety procedures, an employer’s failure to comply with regulations — such as by failing to provide safety equipment — could be a safety violation. Committing a safety violation can result in civil liability for the employer, and they could be held accountable outside of the workers’ compensation system. Employers that harm their workers by committing safety violations can potentially face criminal charges as well.

The legal team of Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC is available to guide you through every step of your workers’ compensation claim and help you recover the benefits you deserve. Contact us today to discuss the details of your case.

To schedule a free consultation with our attorneys, complete our contact form or call (843) 968-0886.