Under California Labor Code Section 4553, employers can be held liable for employee on-the-job injuries if those injuries are determined to have come about due to serious and willful misconduct on the part of the employer. The consequences faced by an employer who was determined to be liable for employee injury under this section of the LC could include court-compelled financial compensation to the employee, OSHA fines and skyrocketing workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Any employer facing these allegations is urged to discuss their legal options with an attorney who specializes in defending people against such claims and has the experience and track record to back it up. Sacks & Zolonz, LLP can help.
The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board of California, as well as the civil courts, determine what constitutes serious and willful misconduct depending on the details of each case. Although no formal definition of this term has been outlined under the Labor Code, it is regarded as conduct by an employer that goes beyond gross negligence and borders on criminal behavior. For example, if an employer is fully cognizant of a hazard in their workplace that is likely to result in severe injury to an employee but takes no action to remove the hazard or otherwise mitigate risks to employee health and well-being, that employer could be accused of serious and willful misconduct.
If an employer is found to be liable under LC 4553, they may be compelled to pay out extra financial compensation to the injured employee beyond the scope of the workers’ compensation benefits themselves. Under civil law, an employer could be required to pay out half the dollar amount awarded as benefits to the employee as workers’ compensation, including medical expenses and disability benefits. These severe penalties can lead to a company becoming so financially strained that they have to go out of business.
The earlier you get dependable legal advice from an experienced attorney, the better. As soon as your employee levels a serious and willful misconduct allegation against you, you need to get on the phone and call an attorney for a case evaluation. You have the right to defend yourself and your business against these types of accusations, but you should not try to do it alone.
Contact Sacks & Zolonz, LLP if you need a serious and willful misconduct defense lawyer in Los Angeles or elsewhere within the southern California region. We will help to protect your best interests in court, whether that means opting for settlement or taking your case all the way to trial. We have a track record of successfully defending our clients against workers’ compensation related claims, and we will work hard to do the same for you and your business if you have had allegations leveled against you by an employee. Call today for a consultation.