There is a big difference between filing a workers’ compensation claim based on a slip and fall injury and filing a personal injury claim against someone for a slip and fall injury. In a typical personal injury claim following a slip and fall injury, the courts will use a standard called “comparative negligence” in awarding damages. This basically means that the courts determine how much you were at fault and how much the property owners were at fault using a percentage, then base the amount of damages they award on that percentage. For example, if you were in a slip and fall accident on someone’s property and the courts determined you had 25% of the fault in the accident, they would only award you 75% damages for the losses you incurred. Under workers’ compensation, who is at fault doesn’t matter. The workers’ compensation system is set up to avoid fault based accusations about workplace injuries. This is meant to help injured workers receive compensation even when the accident was partially their fault.
The specifics of Utah workers’ compensation law can get a little confusing when it comes to dealing with a workplace injury involving a slip and fall accident. The first thing to consider is whether or not someone fell all the way to the ground after slipping. For example, imagine you have a preexisting lower back injury and are working in a warehouse. You slip on something, but in the process of falling you catch yourself on a nearby shelf, which wrenches your back in a way that aggravates your preexisting injury. You would have a difficult time proving that you qualify for workers comp benefits under Utah laws because you caught yourself before you fell all the way to the ground, even though your injury happened while you were at work.
Another thing to consider is where your slip and fall happened. Imagine you’re walking to work from your car in the winter. The ground is icy, but you don’t see the ice because there’s a little layer of snow over it. Before you’re inside or clocked in, you slip and fall to the ground in the parking lot and hurt yourself as a result. Even though you weren’t “on the clock” or inside the building yet, it’s your employer’s responsibility to make sure all of their facilities are safe. That means injuries that come from slipping and falling on your employer’s property are usually considered to be “work-related” and compensable under workers’ comp. Referring back to the first scenario though, you will have a much more difficult time proving causation if you catch yourself before you hit the ground.
Ideally, after you file a claim for your workplace injury, the insurance adjuster for your employer’s workers’ comp insurance would take care of things and get you taken care of. History has not shown that to be so, unfortunately, which is where attorneys like myself come in. Leaving your claim in the hands of your employer’s insurance adjuster is not enough to protect yourself. Take advantage of a free consultation and check out our other blog posts to arm yourself with the knowledge you need to move forward with confidence.