In most cases, when an employee sustains an injury at work, it is the result of an accident. You might have smashed your hand while using dangerous machinery, or slipped and fell on a wet floor. However, sometimes your co-workers or customers could be a potential hazard in your work environment. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 2 million employees fall victim to workplace violence on an annual basis. How does this affect an employee’s ability to collect workers’ compensation benefits?
Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Violence
Generally, if an attack was work-related, employees are able to receive workers’ compensation benefits if an injury was caused by violence. To be eligible for these benefits, you must show that the assault happened while you were performing your duties and that it was somehow related to your occupation or place of employment. If an attack was personal, you will likely be unable to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. For example, if you work at a department store and you were attacked by your significant other while you were working, this would be considered a personal attack and unrelated to your job.
On the other hand, if you were working at a department store and a customer attacked you because you were unable to locate a clothing item in the right size, you would likely be able to secure workers’ compensation benefits since the attack was related to your job.
The Fault Exception
Workers’ compensation is based on a no-fault system, which essentially means that employees are generally entitled to these benefits regardless of fault. The exception to this rule, however, is if you sustained injuries from violence in the workplace and you were the initial physical aggressor. For example, if the unhappy customer in the example mentioned earlier did not attack you, but started scolded you for not being able to find the right size of clothing and you threw the first punch, resulting in a fight, any injuries you sustained would not be covered by workers’ compensation benefits.
If a co-worker or customer injured you in a violent altercation, report the incident to your employer immediately and see a doctor as soon as possible to examine your injuries, assess your recovery time, and estimate the cost of your treatment.
Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Sacramento
If you were injured in a violent altercation while performing your job duties, you need to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to begin the process of filing your workers’ compensation benefits. At Smolich & Smolich, our Sacramento workers’ compensation attorneys are dedicated to providing exceptional legal assistance and advice for injured workers. If we are unable to win your case, you will not owe us any legal fees!
Get started on your workers’ compensation case today and contact Smolich & Smolich at (888) 452-0703 to schedule your free initial case evaluation!