According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), homicide is the fourth leading cause of workplace death in the United States. Nearly two million workers report being the victims of workplace violence every year. According to OSHA, “Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening, disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.” When you are the victim of workplace violence that results in an injury that prevents you from working, you should know under which circumstances worker’s comp will and will not pay for your recovery.
Workplace Violence and Workers’ Comp
Most workplace injuries are caused by accidents like falls from scaffolding, run-ins with forklifts, or repetitive actions leading to carpal tunnel or other soft-tissue injury. However, when a co-worker or outsider commits an act of violence, injuries to employees can be severe, or even fatal. In most cases, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance should cover the expenses related to treatment and recovery of the injury, including lost wages from being unable to work. Generally, the insurance adjuster will want to see that the attack occurred while the victim was performing his or her job duties. For example, a convenience store clerk who is shot during a robbery was clearly performing his job duties when he was attacked, so there should be no question about workers’ comp covering his expenses.
However, there is sometimes an exception when the attack occurred at work, but was personal in nature. If, for example, a man enters a workplace and attacks his girlfriend, who is an employee, the insurance company may claim that the attack was not work-related. However, it could also be argued that the employer had a duty to keep the employee safe and that that duty was breached when the man entered the workplace.
The No-Fault Standard
Workers’ compensation provides no-fault coverage in almost every state. This means that an employee who is injured on the job does not have to show that the employer was at fault in the incident that led to the injury. If the injury happens at work, it will be covered by worker’s comp. Therefore, if you are attacked in the workplace, no matter who the attacker is, your recovery should be compensated. The only exception to the no-fault standard is if you were the aggressor in the attack, even if you end up more injured than the other party.
What Workers’ Comp Will Pay
Workers’ compensation is designed to cover all or nearly all of the expenses you incur due to an injury or illness that was caused by something in the workplace. This includes:
- Medical care. Doctor visits, medications, surgeries, and any other medical care you need to diagnose and treat your injuries will be covered. Any equipment you need, such as a wheelchair or special vehicle, will also be covered by worker’s comp.
- Rehabilitation. If your injuries require ongoing physical or occupational therapy in order to get you back to work, these expenses will be covered. Rehabilitation expenses could also include job training programs or college tuition if you cannot return to the same type of work you did before your injury.
- Disability. When your illness or injury makes it impossible for you to work, workers’ comp will pay disability benefits until you can return. Benefits are paid according to how severe the disability is and how long it will last.
- Death. Both Kansas and Missouri provide survivor benefits to eligible family members for employees who suffer fatal injuries at work.
Don’t Hesitate to Hire a Lawyer
Even legitimate workers’ compensation claims can be denied by insurance companies. If there is any doubt that your employer’s workers’ comp program will cover your injuries caused by a workplace assault, you should contact a workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible. Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys will work hard to document your injuries and demonstrate the legitimacy of your claim. Contact us at (888) 348-2616 to get started.