Injuries Caused by Workplace Violence and Your Workers’ Compensation Rights
It seems reasonable to expect that you should feel safe at your own workplace. Unfortunately, there has been a surge in violent incidents at workplaces across the United States. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), American workers have filed over two million reports a year stating they have been victims of workplace violence. OSHA also claims that this is only a fraction of violent incidents, as many more acts go unreported. This means that every week there are nearly 25,000 reported assaults in the workplace, 20 of which turn out to be homicides.
What Is Workplace Violence?
OSHA defines workplace violence as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse, to physical assaults, property damage, and even homicide.
Any act that affects another and causes fear or physical injury in a workplace environment can be construed as workplace violence. Mainstream forms of workplace aggression include shootings (school shootings, church shootings, etc.); office threats (by employees and employers); sexual harassment; muggings; race, gender, and LGBTQ brutalities; and physical altercations (fights).
The risk for workplace violence is drastically increased if your workplace involves the following factors:
- Working with the public.
- Working directly with money or valuables.
- Working with the transportation of passengers, goods, or services.
- Working with mentally unstable persons, such as in hospitals or law enforcement.
- Working alone or in small numbers.
- Working unusual hours (late at night or early in the morning).
- Working in high-crime areas.
Common effects of workplace violence include wrongful deaths, minor to severe injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and an inability to return to work.
Workplace Violence and Workers’ Compensation Claims
How do workplace violence and its consequences affect your ability to receive compensation for and injuries your sustain on the job? According to state laws, you have three options for pursuing a settlement:
- Workers’ compensation benefits. It is your employer’s duty to provide a safe working environment. If he negligently fails in his safety responsibilities, you may have cause to pursue a workers’ comp claim against him. However, you can only get workers’ compensation benefits for if you were injured due by the violent actions of a supervisor or other coworker, and it may be more difficult to pursue the claim. Factors such as proving whether your injuries arose from the violent act can be hard to prove and must be determined by the facts of each individual case.
- Third-party lawsuit. If someone outside your business organization is responsible for your injuries, you may have the right to pursue a third-party claim against the person who caused the violent act. For example, you may have the right to file a third-party claim if the violence was caused by a stranger, ex-employee, visitor, customer, contractor, or any other person not employed by your boss.
- Independent claim. Depending on the precedent law in your state, you may also be able to file an independent claim against your employer for inadequate security after a violent incident. In some jurisdictions, that sort of claim may be subsumed by a workers’ comp claim.
Pursuing Your Claim With the Right Help
If you or a loved one has been recently injured due to workplace violence, you need a qualified lawyer in your corner—a lawyer like Steve Lee. Attorney Steve Lee and his staff don’t take workplace injuries lying down. After 25 years’ worth of experience, Steve has the resources, grit, and intelligence to help you fight for fair compensation. Even if the violent act was uncontrollable, you still have the right to pursue a claim to help pay for your medical costs.
Contact us today to see how we can help you get back on your feet. A simple call is all it takes to schedule your FREE, no-obligation case review, and guide you in the right direction for your claim. Call now!