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Workers’ compensation was created to provide protection for employees if they suffer an injury while on the job. It helps to pay for their medical bills and provides wage support while the employee is unable to work. Those workplace injuries are usually assumed to be accidents, such as an object falling on an employee, an employee falling from an elevated surface, an employee inhaling toxic fumes, and so on. However, there can be deliberate injuries as well, such as when an employee gets assaulted while on the job, and some might wonder if that is covered as well.
The answer is that it depends on the circumstances of the assault. But if someone is a victim of violence while at work, they should contact a workers’ compensation attorney to get legal help. No matter the situation, an employment lawyer will be able to provide help to the injured employee; click here to read more.
Workers’ Comp For Workplace Assaults
Workplace violence is defined by OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site”. As the quotation states, that includes threats of violence as well as the act of violence itself. Those threats or acts of violence can be perpetrated by other workers, customers, clients, or visitors. Assaults in the workplace can be very serious because they are the third leading cause of fatal injuries in the workplace. In 2017, 458 of the 5,147 reported workplace deaths were intentional acts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.
An employer is supposed to provide a safe environment for their employees and that includes making sure that there is a low risk of workplace violence. However, violent acts can sometimes occur in the workplace and when they are directed to an employee, the question becomes whether the employee is eligible for workers’ compensation. The answer is that it depends on the motivation for the assault, mainly whether the reason for the assault was work-related or was personal.
If the act of workplace violence was related to the workplace or to workplace duties, then the incident is covered by workers’ comp. But if the incident was because of personal issues between the worker and the person who assaulted them, then workers’ comp does not cover any injuries caused by the incident. An example of an act of workplace violence that would be covered is if a customer assaults an employee because they believe that the employee was giving them poor service. However, if the employee and customer had a previous antagonistic history and the customer attacked the employee because of that, then the employee’s injuries would not be covered by workers’ comp.
Contact an Employment Attorney If You Were Assaulted in the Workplace
Since motivation is an important factor in cases of workplace assault, that means these kinds of cases could get complicated. The reason is that there could be instances where the motivation of the attacker could be unclear or could be a mix of the professional and the personal. In those cases, the employer might refuse to accept the employee’s workers’ comp claim. If that happens, then an employment attorney could be useful in helping the injured worker with their claim.
Infographic provided by MSA Meds, a professional medicare set aside account administration