When an Injured Employee’s Safety Violations Risk a Reduction in Workers’ Compensation Benefits
According to Florida Statute Section 440.09(5), if injury is caused by the knowing refusal of the employee to use a safety appliance or observe a safety rule required by statute or lawfully adopted by the department, and brought prior to the accident to the employee’s knowledge, or if injury is caused by the knowing refusal of the employee to use a safety appliance provided by the employer, the compensation as provided in this chapter shall be reduced 25 percent.
This Florida statute underscores that an employee has responsibilities to follow federal and state safety regulations applicable to the employee’s employment and failing to do so, can lead to significantly less workers’ compensation benefits, if injured. For an insurance carrier to be successful in front of a Judge of Compensation Claim to reduce your benefits by 25%, following your work accident over an allegation that a safety device was not used, the insurance carrier will need to prove a causal relationship between your failure to use the device (such as a seat belt or safety guard) and your resulting injury. The insurance carrier will try to show that your failure to use the safety device was deliberate, knowing, intentional and willful. When discussing this type of issue in your case, our workers’ compensation department at Harris Guidi Rosner, P.A. will want to discuss with you your employer’s practices regarding the safety device in question, and whether you were required to use it, and if the rule to use the devise was enforced by your employer. Also, the safety device at issue would have to be one that you knew was one to use and if it was something provided to you to guard against a danger which had been explained to you in advance of your accident. Usually, any direction to observe a safety device or rule must clearly be given as an order from your employer not merely a suggestion, advice or as a cautionary instruction.
If you have concerns that your accident was caused in part by not using a safety device on the job, and you have concerns your benefits may be reduced, please call us for a 100% confidential, free consultation regarding your case and your legal rights. You can reach our attorneys at (904) 777-7777 at Harris Guidi Rosner, P.A. or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.