Q: I was injured in a fight at my workplace, even though I wasn’t involved in the conflict. Am I entitled to workers’ compensation benefits?
Generally, workers injured when a fight breaks out at their workplace are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nearly two million workers are victims of workplace violence each year.
Workplace Violence Injuries
Most workplace violence incidents involve assault, primarily to the head and face. This may result in soft tissue injuries such as black eyes, cuts, bruises, and swelling. Assaults sometimes cause more severe injuries, including broken bones, brain concussions, and herniated discs. Extremely violent attacks may even result in life-threatening internal injuries.
Qualifying for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
With any claim, an employee must demonstrate that his injuries occurred during the course of his employment in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits. When there is a fight, the injuries must be sustained while the claimant is at work, and he cannot be the initiator of the violence. While an angry verbal exchange generally isn’t considered sufficient provocation, threats of injury or death may be. In this case, the attacker could claim that he was merely defending himself.
Employers have a legal duty to provide a safe work environment for their employees. This includes taking steps to prevent individuals with a history of violence from interacting with workers. Companies may accomplish this through drug testing, reference checks, criminal background checks, and disciplining or terminating workers guilty of initiating conflict.
If an employer fails to protect workers, victims of workplace violence may have the option of filing a lawsuit in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits. This requires proving gross negligence or a wanton disregard for safety on the part of the employer. While work-related injuries are generally covered by workers’ compensation insurance, this coverage is optional for many Texas employers. If a company doesn’t provide workers’ compensation benefits, a victim of workplace violence may sue for damages.
Compensation for Your Injuries
If you’ve been injured in an act of workplace violence, you deserve compensation. Workplace injury litigation can be complicated, so you need an experienced attorney to protect your rights. To learn more, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.