What Does Serious and Willful Misconduct Mean in California?


If you are an employee who has sustained an injury due to your employer’s serious and willful misconduct, you may be able to receive compensation for damages caused by the misconduct. In the state of California, employers are required to provide a safe work environment for their employees that minimizes the risk of injury. Should an employee be injured on the job, damages are paid out in monetary value as well as workers compensation benefits. However, what does is mean for an employer to be guilty of serious and willful misconduct in California? Serious and willful misconduct by an employer means the employer acted in a manner with disregard to the possible consequences. The misconduct must have been done with the intention to do harm. A severe type of negligence, serious and willful misconduct by an employer can also be quasi-criminal. In California, employees who have been injured due to an employer’s serious and willful misconduct have one year from the date of injury to file the petition. The petition must further be filed with the employer or the employer’s managing representative. To prove his or her case, the employee will be required to:

  • Prove the employer knew of a dangerous condition;
  • Prove that the employer knew there was a possibility that the dangerous condition could cause an injury;
  • Prove the employer purposefully failed to take action to prevent injury
California law allows the employee’s compensation to be increased by one-half upon a petition for penalties to the Workers Compensation Appeals Board.  The California Supreme Court has ruled that the one-half increase applies to every benefit provided to the injured employee, including medical treatment payments and rehabilitation costs. However, if you feel uncertain about filing a serious and willful misconduct claim against your employer, consider talking to a lawyer first. The attorneys at Robbins, Strunk, and Cramer are prepared to assist you in recovering damages for your pain and suffering. Schedule an appointment with us today.

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