Does workplace violence qualify for workers' compensation?

When we think about suffering an on-the-job injury, we usually envision some sort of accident befalling an employee, but in some cases it is actually person-on-person violence that brings about a workplace injury. Workplace violence is a more serious and widespread issue than you might think, and many people do not understand the role that workers' compensation plays in addressing it.

If you recently suffered an injury because of workplace violence, then it is possible that you do have grounds for a workers' compensation claim. If a person is doing something within the scope of their employment when they suffer the injury, then the workers' compensation provider will generally honor the injury claim. However, if there is some element of the altercation that is distinctly non work-related, the claim may face some difficulty.

It is also worth considering the source of the violence. If the person (or persons) who committed violence causing your injury is your superior under your employer, then you may actually have grounds to sue your employer directly rather than go through workers' compensation. In most cases, workers' compensation restricts employees from suing employers, but if an employer commits an intentional act of harm against an employee, then a direct lawsuit against the employer my be permissible.

These matters are rarely simple and require a great deal of careful examination to determine the strongest path forward. It is always wise to consult with an experienced workplace injury attorney to make sure you understand all of your options before moving forward. Proper legal counsel can help protect your rights and create a safer, more just workplace for you and your fellow employees.

Source: Department of Labor, "DOL Workplace Violence Program - Appendices," accessed July 28, 2017

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