Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can make a workers’ compensation claim null and void.
In Missouri, workers’ compensation is a specific and required type of insurance that is taken out by employers to protect both their assets and their employees. It will compensate someone who is injured while at work and performing under the scope and authority of their employer.
Although it’s not based on fault, there are times when the actions of an employee can prohibit them from being able to collect – whether they were performing work-related activities or not. If you were breaking the law or engaging in criminal behavior, then you will likely be denied coverage.
What is Vicarious Liability?
When you are in an accident while driving a company car, if you are engaging in work-related duties like making deliveries, then – even if you are at fault – your employer is responsible for the auto accident through vicarious liability. Vicarious liability means that if you are driving someone else’s vehicle with permission, you are covered by their auto insurance. You might also be eligible to collect workers’ compensation since you were injured while working.
There are other times when you might or might not be able to collect workers’ compensation. For instance, if you were entertaining clients in a company car, took them to dinner, and then got into an accident, that may or may not be covered depending on your job. Since part of your work duties might be to show clients a good time, if you are in an accident while driving around with them you are likely covered under workers’ compensation. Also, because it is a car accident, you are probably covered under vicarious liability rules.
However, if you take clients out and you drink and drive and get into an accident, then not only might you be denied vicarious liability rights, but any claim you can make for workers’ compensation may also be denied. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can make workers’ compensation null and void.
Grounds for Your Employer to Deny Your Claim
To deny workers’ compensation for someone who is intoxicated, an employer must prove that it was the intoxication that led to the accident. If you are drinking and driving and get into an accident while working, then there is definitely grounds for your employer to deny your claim. Not only were you engaging in criminal activity, which would make you ineligible for coverage under vicarious liability, but it is also pretty easy to prove that your accident was due to intoxication, which would negate your eligibility for workers’ compensation.
When you are driving in a company car you are typically covered under both workers’ compensation and vicarious liability, unless you are driving while intoxicated – then you might be ruining your eligibility for both.