An employee who is injured on the job can usually seek compensation for their medical bills and other such losses by filing a claim to recover workers’ compensation benefits. However, if an employee is injured as a result of an employer’s “serious and willful misconduct,” said employer may also be found liable, resulting in financial penalties and rising insurance premiums.
Avoiding serious and willful misconduct lawsuits should be among your top goals as an employer. The following tips will help:
One way an injured employee or their attorney may demonstrate that you are guilty of serious and willful misconduct is to show that they were injured because, in some capacity, you failed to comply with an applicable law or safety regulation.
You already know that complying with the law should be among your top priorities in regard to employee safety. That said, it’s important to remember that California lawmakers and regulators are constantly updating existing laws, amending them, and adding new laws.
You must have a system in place for regularly monitoring these updates and changes. You don’t want to be found guilty of non-compliance simply because you were unaware that a new law or regulatory statute was on the books. Claiming ignorance will not help you avoid the penalties associated with a serious and willful misconduct allegation.
It’s not uncommon for employees to file serious and willful misconduct claims or lawsuits when they believe they were injured because an employer was aware of a hazard but did not take steps to address it or alert employees to its existence.
One of your critical duties as an employer is to monitor all work sites for hazards and mitigate them accordingly when they are discovered. If a hazard cannot be mitigated or eliminated, you must at least let employees know the hazard is present so that they can avoid it. When applicable, you also need to provide them with safety equipment that can prevent the hazard from causing significant harm.
Again, it’s possible that an employee will claim you were aware of a hazard’s existence when this may not be the case. An employee could be injured as a result of a hazard that you did not know existed. Regardless, you may still face penalties if it can be shown that you should have been aware of the hazard’s existence if you were being responsible and properly monitoring all work environments for potential dangers.
You can’t be everywhere at once. Thus, you need to train all managers and even lower-level employees to monitor for hazards. The more people there are looking out for potential dangers at a work site, the greater the odds those dangers will be identified and addressed properly.
Employees shouldn’t merely know how to identify safety hazards and risk factors. They must also know how they can report their concerns.
Establish a system that allows workers to easily file reports when they notice any safety issues. Be certain to respond promptly and thoroughly when reports are filed.
Although taking these steps can help you avoid being the target of a serious and willful misconduct lawsuit, if an employee still does take legal action against you, a Los Angeles serious and willful misconduct defense attorney at Sacks Law Group, APC can help minimize your chances of facing penalties. Contact us online or call us at 310-216-7778 for more information.