Hurt By Violence At Work: Know Your Benefits

Though rare, there is always the potential for violence to visit you at work. Coworkers and ex-coworkers can become unstable, customers can freak out, and even supervisors can show up at work armed and ready to shoot whoever gets in their way. When you have been hurt because of violence at work, do you have benefits? Find out more below.

What to Expect from Workers' Compensation

Your employer likely pays workers' compensation insurance on your behalf. Most employees never think about this employee benefit until they need it. If your employer does provide coverage, workers who are hurt while at work and because of the job can be eligible for several benefits:

  • Coverage of medical treatment.
  • Payments meant to partially cover wages.
  • Settlements in some cases.

When Violence Visits

In all but the most unusual of cases, workers hurt because of workplace violence can expect to be paid the benefits listed above. There are, however, exceptions to the coverage. For many instances, just as with all sorts of work injuries, the coverage is determined on a case-by-case basis. If you are hurt in a workplace violence situation, be sure to seek medical care and deal with the coverage issue later. File a claim with your employer's workers' compensation insurer as soon as you are able. If your employer is being uncooperative, contact your state's board of workers' compensation for help. 

Common Workers' Comp Exceptions

As mentioned above, some workplace violence incidents may not be covered. In general, the insurer won't pay for a worker's benefits when the violence was personally directed at the worker. For instance, the worker was targeted because the perpetrator believed they were having an affair with their spouse. Other examples of when personal issues spill over into work issues:

  • A doctor is attacked at the emergency room they worked at by a disgruntled stalker.
  • A teacher is held hostage and injured by an ex-spouse. 

The above exceptions are not specifically related to the workplace—the violent acts could have happened almost anywhere, and work just happened to be the place. 

In most cases, however, work is at the heart of a problem. Decisions can be made at work that negatively affect a worker and they may return to take it out on almost anyone. Even though those attacked might take it personally, the impetus for the attack is based on a work issue and that is the difference between coverage and no coverage. 

With this type of case, some workers may be struggling to get the workers' comp insurer to cooperate even when they should be paying benefits. If so, speak to a workers' compensation lawyer for help with your case.