California Labor Code 4553 states that employers can be held liable for employee injuries that take place on the job if those injuries are determined to have occurred due to the serious and willful misconduct of the employer. This means that employers could be held legally responsible for paying medical care costs, lost wages, damages due to pain and suffering, and other fines and fees if the court finds in the employee’s favor. Facing these accusations can be tremendously negative for employers, both in terms of the financial strain caused by litigation as well as in terms of the business’s reputation.
Serious and willful misconduct is not clearly defined under the law. It is up to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) to determine whether or not an employer’s serious and willful misconduct paved the way for an employee’s injury. The WCAB investigates and reviews the case in order to find out if any acts of gross negligence on the part of the employer resulted in injury to the employee. Acts of gross negligence consists of actions (or failure to act) that would almost certainly pose a hazard, and actions that a reasonable person would not engage in due to the risk to health and life that these actions would pose.
Employers face strict penalties if they are found liable for employee injuries under California LC 4553. They could have to pay out benefits above and beyond the cost of workers’ compensation benefits, up to half of the amount of benefits awarded to the employee, and may be compelled by the courts to pay out further damages for pain and suffering. These penalties and fees can add up quickly, leaving a company in serious financial trouble after all is said and done.
If you are an employer facing these allegations, you need to hire a workers’ compensation defense attorney right away to help protect your reputation and protect your business. Our attorneys can help defend you against these accusations in court, and will work to negotiate a settlement or advocate for you at trial.
Sacks & Zolonz, LLP provides clients with a range of legal services related to workers’ compensation defense, including defense against serious & willful misconduct allegations made by an employee or former employee. Our attorneys know California labor laws and have extensive experience in applying that knowledge for their clients’ benefit. We know that being accused of misconduct is a serious matter, and your company deserves the best defense against these allegations. Our offices serve clients located in Santa Ana or anywhere else in southern California, so contact us today for a consultation if you need a workers’ compensation defense attorney.