Can a Lack of Sleep Affect a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

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Exhausted and tired young woman sleeping on desk

A recent report by The Huffington Post indicated the many problems that insufficient sleep can create for a person’s health. It cited a study in the Sleep Health journal that found that two counties in neighboring North Carolina were identified as “cold spots” – that is, these counties had low levels of sleep deprivation (in other words, most people were getting a good night’s rest). The report also cited a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found North Carolina and South Carolina to have some of the nation’s higher rates of sleep deprivation.
Risks of Sleep Deprivation in the Workplace
Sleep deprivation can pose a serious risk to a person’s health, even in the workplace. The report noted:

  • Sleep deprived people are more dangerous on the road and drowsy driving is believed to be linked to nearly 1,600 car accident deaths each year;
  • Sleep deprivation may play a role in almost 275,000 workplace accidents each year and result in losses of $31 billion;
  • Sleeping less than seven hours increases the risk for disease and illness; and
  • Not getting enough sleep can impair a person’s decision making abilities, attention, reaction time, memory, and motivation – all leading to potentially more injuries on the job.

If you are injured or become ill while on the job and you have poor sleeping habits, could this potentially affect your ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits or impact the amount you will receive?
Worker Negligence Usually Not a Factor in Workers’ Compensation Cases
The good news for injured workers in South Carolina is that their own careless or negligent conduct is not usually a reason or a denial of benefits or reduction in benefits. So if not getting enough sleep is careless conduct (and, arguably, it is such) contributes to your workplace accident, this should not play any role in determining whether you receive benefits or the amount of benefits you will receive.
When Your (or Your Coworkers’) Sleeping Habits May Matter
Note that simple carelessness or negligence does not affect an injured worker’s rights to workers’ compensation benefits, but willful, wanton and/or reckless conduct can. For example, a coworker who knows he or she did not get enough sleep and who chooses to operate a heavy machine anyway may be held personally responsible for the injuries he or she causes. This would be especially likely if the coworker was warned by you or others that he or she was not in a condition to operate the machine but he or she did so anyway.
If you have been injured while on the job in South Carolina, contact Greenville workers’ compensation attorney David R. Price, Jr. for assistance. Whether carelessness is to blame or whether a coworker or your employer acted recklessly or intentionally, attorney David R. Price, Jr. can assist you in asserting your rights and obtaining the benefits to which the law entitles you. Contact his office today at (864) 271-2636.


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