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Are Employers Responsible for Injuries Caused by Intoxicated Workers?

If you’ve been injured on the job due to an intoxicated coworker, give us a call now for a free, no-commitment case review, and learn how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Imagine you’re at work in a warehouse, and a coworker in a forklift knocks over a shelf, which falls onto you and breaks your leg. Your coworker is later found to be intoxicated. Who is at fault, and who is responsible for your injuries?

Is it your coworker who was intoxicated and should not have been operating machinery? Or is it your employer who allowed him to operate a forklift while drunk? Or is it both?

work accident compensation

Until 2012, Injured Workers Could Seek Compensation From Negligent Co-Workers

Until less than a decade ago, Missouri courts upheld injured workers’ rights to seek compensation directly from negligent co-workers. In other words, if you were injured on the job because of a co-worker’s negligence – such as being intoxicated – you could sue them directly to seek compensation for your injuries. 

However, this is generally no longer allowed. Changes in Missouri law have barred workers from suing co-workers who engage in misconduct on the job. 

House Bill 1540 Changed The Law & Barred Civil Action Against Co-Workers

In 2012, House Bill 1540 brought some major changes to Missouri workers’ compensation law. In this bill was an amendment that disallowed civil action against co-workers engaging in negligence.

However, this amendment also protects workers’ rights to collect workers’ compensation if they are injured by an employee who is negligent in their duties, even due to intoxication.

In other words, if you are injured on the job by a drunk coworker, you may not be able to sue them. However, you can collect workers’ compensation benefits if a drunk coworker causes an injury due to:

  • Ignoring proper workplace safety precautions
  • Errors when operating equipment or other mistakes that may put you at risk
  • Physical and sexual assault
  • Drunk driving in a company vehicle.

The liability generally rests on your employer and – in turn – on the insurance company responsible for their workers’ compensation policy. 

What to Do if You’re Injured by an Intoxicated Coworker

If you are ever in a situation where you are injured by a drunk or intoxicated coworker, you should take the following steps: 

  1. Obtain first aid and medical treatment – First things first, get all necessary medical treatment you need to ensure your safety. This is your top priority. 
  1. Notify a supervisor – As soon as it is physically possible, you should notify a supervisor at your job and file a report about the incident.
  2. File a claim for workers’ compensation – Once you have reported the incident, you can file a claim for workers’ compensation.
  3. Hire a workers’ compensation attorney in St. Louis – An experienced work injury attorney in St. Louis can help you through the entire workers’ comp process and fight to get you the full benefits you deserve. 

Free Work Injury Case Review

At The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann, we’re always fighting for the rights of injured workers in Missouri. If you’ve been injured on the job due to an intoxicated coworker, give us a call now for a free, no-commitment case review, and learn how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Speak With a Workers Comp Attorney

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Updated: February 8, 2021