Serious and Willful Misconduct

Serious and willful misconduct

In the California Worker’s Comp System, occasionally there will be serious and willful misconduct, either on the part of the employer or on the part of the employee.


A. The Employee

With 4 exceptions, serious and willful misconduct on the part of an employee will reduce workers compensation payments by ½.

The 4 exceptions:

1. Injury resulting in death ;
2. Injury with a permanent disability if over 70% ;
3. Injury caused by violation of a safety law or regulation by an employer;
4. The employee is under 16
Many cases where an employer claims serious or willful misconduct are cases where an employee engages in illegal activity.


B. The Employer

If an employer engages in serious and willful misconduct which causes injury to an employee, the amount payable to the employee increases by 50%.

This 50% penalty applies to all benefits provided including medical benefits and vocational rehabilitation.

The employers penalty amount paid is not covered by his or her workers compensation insurance.
What is serious and willful misconduct?

Only extreme cases of misconduct are considered serious and willful. Our employer’s misconduct must be extreme – misconduct almost tantamount to intentional self -injury.

An employer’s misconduct,  similarly, must be similar to an intent to injure or a reckless disregard of an employee’s safety.

An employees disregard of labor code safety requirements or the safety regulations of the Department of Industrial Relations is usually enough to meet the standard.

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Workers Compensation Attorney. Call me anytime at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice.

See our reviews on Yelp, AVVO and Google.

Client Reviews

  • Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!
  • Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation.
  • Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything.
  • Very professional. Great team, staff and service all around. Mr Smith was very honest, straight forward with his advice. He gives the word "attorney" an honest reputation. I will seek his council anytime, and would recommend him at the drop of a dime.
  • I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone.
  • Edward Smith law offices provide competent, thorough, and personable help for victims of personal injury. When you first meet the staff you know you contacted the right office. This law office treats clients like people. I recommend this office to anyone seeking representation regarding personal injury.