Attorney David J. King


Can fault affect a South Dakota workers’ compensation claim?

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2024 | Worker's Compensation

Workers in South Dakota get hurt on the job every day. Retail workers get hit by falling boxes, hospital workers suffer injuries caused by unstable patients and commercial drivers get hurt in crashes. These injured employees can typically rely on workers’ compensation benefits to help them.

Provided that someone’s medical condition is a direct result of their employment, they may be eligible for both medical and disability benefits. Workers in a variety of different professions often fear filing a workers’ compensation claim. They may worry that their employer or coworkers might view them as lazy. Other times, they may worry that they wouldn’t qualify for benefits because they are at least partially responsible for their injury. Yet, these concerns can largely be set aside in the majority of cases.

Fault is usually not a factor during a claim

The law about workers’ compensation benefits in South Dakota is quite clear. Workers cannot take legal action against their employers because the workers’ compensation rules protect the company from liability and therefore litigation. No-fault coverage means that even when a worker can show that their employer directly caused their injuries through negligence or regulatory non-compliance, they can’t sue the business.

Those no-fault rules protect the workers as well. Even if an employer can show that a worker made a major mistake on the job, their errors typically do not affect their eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. No-fault coverage means that even when someone made a mistake that directly contributed to their injury, they can still request medical benefits and disability pay until they can return to work.

Of course, there are certain limitations on no-fault coverage available. Occasionally, employers can use allegations of fault to counter a worker’s benefit claim. If a worker fails a drug or alcohol test and the incidents related to their intoxication, then their employer may have grounds to challenge their benefits claim. If the employer could show that someone hurt themselves on purpose to make a fraudulent benefits claim, that could also affect someone’s eligibility.

Most minor mistakes have little or no impact on someone’s eligibility for workers’ compensation coverage after a job injury in South Dakota. As such, learning more about workers’ compensation rules may give people the confidence they need to file a benefits claim.