By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When can you claim workers comp if you got hurt by your own actions on the job?
A picture of a University of California police officer dousing peaceful protesters with pepper spray caused outrage, and led eventually to a settlement of a million dollars to those protesters by the university after a report found the officer had used excessive physical force.
There has just been a new payout stemming from that incident. The police officer, who filed a claim for workers compensation for the nervous system damage he allegedly suffered, has now himself received a payout of $38,000.
Seriously? How can the guy who did the spraying file a workers comp claim for the damage inflicted by the spraying?
The answer is: that’s workers compensation, folks. It’s what is called a no fault system. An employee can not sue his own employer. But the flip side is that if an employee is hurt in the course of his employment, he is almost automatically entitled to payment for the injury.
That said, an employer might not have to pay if the injury was caused by willful misconduct, but even an employer who can show that the employee was harmed by his own incompetence or even his own negligence may still be liable to pay for workers comp.
The good news is that the University of California police officer learned a valuable lesson that the protestors probably could have taught him: getting pepper sprayed can cause some serious health issues.