Workplace Violence and Workers' Compensation

What would you do if you were hurt on the job by another employee or customer? If you work in a retail environment of some sort, what would you do if the store were robbed and you were injured by the assailant? Workplace violence is a grave concern for any worker. If you are injured or if you have a loved one who was injured or killed as a result of workplace violence, you may qualify for assistance through workers’ compensation insurance.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance. Employees who are hurt on the job in some way, including because of workplace violence, may file a claim without charge. Every state requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation. If you’re hurt during your shift because of an incident of workplace violence, you should consider filing a claim for workers’ compensation. It provides a number of helpful benefits. Of course, the benefits that you are eligible to receive will largely depend upon the severity of your injury from the incident. Common benefits provided by workers’ compensation include:

Help with medical bills. If you’re hurt because of workplace violence, you may have life threatening or severe injuries. You may need emergency medical treatment, prescriptions, hospital stay, surgery, and follow up care. Even if you have health insurance through your provider, these expenses can easily mount up and leave you struggling with debt even though you are victim of circumstance. Workers’ compensation is designed to act as a safety net.

Temporarily and permanent disability. Another customary benefit of workers’ compensation is payment of partial wages. If you are hurt because of workplace violence and you are unable to work either temporarily or permanently, you may qualify to receive a portion of your lost wages through temporary or permanent disability payments provided by workers’ compensation.

Vocational training. If you will be unable to return to your previous occupation, you may be entitled to receive vocational training through workers’ compensation. This benefit can help you learn a new profession to get you back into the workplace.

Workplace Violence Is a Serious Risk

Sadly, every occupation carries a risk for workplace violence. According to the OSHA, more than 2 million workers are victims of workplace violence every year. It is the fourth leading cause of work fatalities. Workplace violence is a concerning issues.

What is Workplace Violence

Sometimes a worker is injured in the workplace due to a violent act against him/her by another worker. Workplace violence is defined as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults. If a worker has to take time off work due to an injury caused by workplace violence s/he may be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim to cover the cost of medical treatment and lost wages due to the injury.

The workers who are at the greatest risk of being injured due to workplace violence are those whose occupations involve exchanging money with members of the public, healthcare workers, delivery drivers, public service employees, customer service workers and those involved in law enforcement like police and security guards. Working either alone or in a small group attracts violence inflicted by others too.

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim Due to Workplace Violence

Fortunately, employers are happy to have their employees covered by workers’ compensation when it comes to injuries caused by others in the workplace otherwise they may face hefty personal injury claims for failing to keep the workplace safe. Typically workplace violence comes under workers’ compensation insurance which most states require employers to carry. There are some limitations to eligibility for workers’ compensation which depend on the state. There is a process to follow if you have been assaulted in the course of your duties at work which involve the need for medical treatment. These are as follows:

  • seek medical treatment immediately including calling an ambulance to take you to the nearest emergency room;
  • notify your workplace manager as soon as possible or get a work colleague to do this for you;
  • seek help from a workers’ compensation lawyer as workers’ compensation for assaults at work aren’t so easy to win;
  • gather all the evidence you can to back up the causes of your injury.

To be entitled to workers’ compensation you must be able to prove that your injury from an assault was due to your employment. There are two ways to do this. The first is to prove your employment conditions increased your chances of being assaulted such as being in possession of cash in your place of employment that could give rise to an assault and secondly the assault was as a result of you being an employee. For example, you were robbed and assaulted causing injury while working as a pizza delivery driver.

The Type of Evidence You Will Need Includes:

  • proof that you reported the accident to your workplace manager;
  • written reports from eye witnesses;
  • photos showing the incident and your injuries;
  • photographic evidence retrieved from surveillance cameras situated in your workplace;
  • your physician’s report with a diagnosis, treatment plan and estimated recovery time;
  • receipts for medical treatment already received, including pain killers and prescriptions;
  • unpaid invoices for treatment received;
  • receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses like taxi or Uber rides to attend a doctor’s appointments.

Potential Settlement Amounts for a Workplace Violence Injury

As with all workers’ compensation claims calculations are based on two main components which are:

  • full cost of all medical treatment past, present and future;
  • two thirds of wages calculated based on wages received at the date of the injury.

In addition, disability payments may be paid depending if the disability is temporary, partial or permanent.

Recent Example of a Workers’ Compensation Settlement for a Truck Driver

The driver was hit in the head while at a truck stop and was inflicted with severe facial, head and elbow injuries. He also suffered severe concussion and was further diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome accompanied by chronic headaches. The doctor’s diagnosis included not being able to drive a truck again.

The employer came up with an initial workers’ compensation settlement of $132,158.25 which was due to him having lost 45% of the use his body. In the end after further negotiations the WC payment reached a figure of $300,000.00. The lump sum was $22,732.10 but due to the nature of his disability he is guaranteed $496.86 in payments every month for the remainder of his life which was calculated to be another 38 years.

What Can Speed Up or Slow Down a Workers’ Compensation Settlement?

One of the key reasons for disruptions to settling workers’ compensation claims may be down to the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. They don’t want to pay anything if they can help it so the process of slowing down a WC settlement may encourage the worker to take a token amount due to financial hardship rather than completing the WC process in full and get his/her full entitlements.

If you want to speed up your WC claim you should ask a lawyer to help you to complete the claim’s form and check to make sure all the evidence used to back up your claim is true, accurate and easily verifiable. This will give less for the WC insurer to dispute. Also, insurers take far more notice of your workers’ compensation claim if you have a WC lawyer working on your behalf.

One of the most common reasons for a WC claim denial is lack of evidence proving the injury took place at work and not somewhere else. You can ensure you have provided all the evidence to prove the injury took place at work. You will almost certainly have your claim denied if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when your accident and injury took place.

There are some cases when WC claims have been denied and that is when an employee files a claim after leaving the job where the accident and injury took place. It is because of the occasional occurrence of these sorts of claims taking place which could slow down the processing of a claim while checks of evidence are undertaken.

Learn About Your Rights Under the Law

If you are a victim of workplace violence, you have rights under workers’ compensation law. This isn’t about simply working in a job that happens to have certain risk factors. Everyone deserve to have a safe place to work. If you or a loved one are hurt because of an action of workplace violence, contact a workers’ compensation attorney. It’s important that you learn about your rights under the law.