Skip to Content
Seasoned Sacramento Injury Attorneys

Workplace Violence & Workers' Compensation


Workers’ compensation covers almost any kind of injury that can happen to an employee at work, regardless of whether or not the employee was at fault for the injury. In most cases, this means that an employee is eligible to receive workers’ comp whether or not their acts contributed to an accident causing them injury – but would this still apply if the employee was injured in a fight? How does workers’ compensation in California account for acts of violence in the workplace?

Unfortunately, workplace violence isn’t as uncommon as anyone would wish it to be. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) cites that as many as 2 million Americans are victims of workplace violence each year. As recently as 2019, there were as many as 761 deaths caused by the intentional injury of a coworker. These disturbing statistics make it clear that injuries resulting from violence at work are worth considering, as is the role workers’ comp can play in the aftermath.

How Does Workplace Violence Happen?

OSHA states that workplace violence can involve any act or threat of physical violence, intimidation, harassment, or another kind of disruptive behavior of a threatening nature.

One might understandably assume that workplace violence only involves individuals who are coworkers or have a work-related connection, but this isn’t always the case. Workplace violence can also involve an employee and a third party, such as a customer, patient, or even someone committing a crime like a robbery.

When Workers’ Comp Will Cover Workplace Violence Injuries

Workers’ compensation can cover an employee’s injuries that occur as a result of workplace violence, but there are two important criteria that must both be met:

1) The violence was related to one’s work in some way. This can mean anything from an employee’s assault during a robbery to two or more employees getting into a fistfight over a professional disagreement. If the reason for the violence was tangibly related to one’s work or work duties, then workers’ comp is likely to pay benefits.

2) The injured employee applying workers’ comp benefits was not the aggressor. You might assume that determining who the aggressor was in an incident of workplace violence would be as simple as identifying who threw the first punch, but this isn’t so. Workers’ comp is more concerned with who was more responsible for creating a situation or environment that led to a violent incident – this means that someone who uses “fighting words” but doesn’t throw the first punch could be the aggressor.

Other conditions may apply, and probably will because workplace violence is complicated, and each workers’ comp claim is unique.

How Can We Help?

If you find yourself in need of legal assistance after experiencing workplace violence, the attorneys at Smolich and Smolich can help. You may need our help applying for workers’ comp benefits if you were injured as a result of workplace violence or require assistance with appealing a denial of benefits.

Learn more about what our attorneys can do for you by contacting us online now!