A highly disputed topic in workers’ compensation cases is often whether or not the employee injured himself at work. We have discussed in prior posts how there is always a grey area in the interpretation of the law, making vital the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in a case.
Whether an employee is actually at work is not the only situation where a question may arise in a workers’ compensation case. A city employee was seriously injured when he fell from a garbage truck in New Mexico after a trash bin had become stuck in the truck hopper. When the employee and a co-worker climbed up onto the truck in an attempt to dislodge the garbage bin, the employee lost his balance and fell to the ground. While the accident itself was not highly unusual, the fact that the employee was intoxicated at the time made the case stand out.
The employee’s blood-alcohol level was approximately 0.12 at the time the workplace injury occurred, a level that exceeded the legal driving limit in the state. The judge in the injured employee’s case noted that although the worker was intoxicated at the time, the co-worker and supervisor involved in the situation failed to notice the intoxication.
“The fact that worker was inebriated…does not resolve the legal effect of it on his claim for benefits,” held the workers’ compensation judge. While the employee’s contribution to the injury did not prevent him from receiving benefits, the judge instituted a 10 percent penalty of the total benefits he would have received.
Source: Insurance Journal “Intoxicated new Mexico Worker Still Entitled to Workers’ Comp Benefits” 12/29/10