Willful misconduct is a term referring to an employer’s behavior. If an employer commits willful misconduct, he or she is guilty of intending to harm another or do an act with a positive, active, and absolute disregard for its consequences.
When an employer’s willful misconduct leads to a worker’s injury, California Labor Code § 4553 obligates the employer to pay an amount equal to half the value of all benefits paid as a result of the injury. This amount includes all temporary and permanent disability, medical, and vocational rehabilitation benefits.
Typically, in a serious willful misconduct case, a worker needs to have high levels of evidence to implicate the employer; however, many California workers’ compensation judges are often sympathetic to injured employees and unsympathetic to employers. Likewise, the California Labor code compels judges to interpret evidence in the light most favorable to the employee.
The amount an employer needs to pay in such a case isn’t insurable and usually must be paid from the employer’s own funds. An employer found guilty of willful misconduct cannot shift liability to an insurance company or a third party. Likewise, because this isn’t a personal injury lawsuit, the Labor Code doesn’t allow judges to adjust the amount of the award—it is either paid in full or not paid at all.
If you or a loved one were harmed by willful misconduct by an employer, don’t hesitate to give our skilled San Jose workers’ compensation lawyers a call. The Law Offices of Andrew B. Shin is dedicated to helping employees get the benefits they deserve. Let us see what we can do for you.