Can You Get Workers’ Compensation For Workplace Violence?
When you think of workplace accidents, you may think of slips and falls, machinery accidents, crashes, electrocutions, and overexertion. However, workplace violence is also an issue that plagues many workers in the United States. In fact, acts of violence are the third most common cause of fatal workplace injuries in the country.
Workplace violence involves any type of physical violence, harassment, or other threatening behavior. It may range from threats to assaults to homicide. Not only are employees involved, but so are customers and visitors.
When someone is injured by workplace violence, can they receive workers’ compensation benefits? It depends on the situation and whether or not the victim instigated the incident.
Workplace Violence and Gray Areas
Two million workers are victims of workplace violence each year. However, these cases are not all cut and dry. There are some gray areas when it comes to workplace violence and whether or not workers’ compensation benefits should be involved. Workplace violence can happen in various ways and not limited to active shooter incidents. It can range from threatening language to homicide, and can include harassment and intimidation, so unwanted physical contact does not necessarily have to take place.
But is workplace violence covered under workers’ compensation laws? It depends on the insurance contract and the language in the workers’ compensation policy. The lines are not always so clear in terms of insurance coverage, especially when the worker who strikes the second blow is injured.
There also needs to be an investigation into the claim. The employer needs to understand the circumstances involved. Were prior interactions between the parties? If so, did the employer do anything to address this past conduct?
The employer may or may not have punished any workers in the past for their conduct. However, attention should be focused on the actions (or lack thereof) of the employer. After all, employers have a duty to mitigate workplace violence by enforcing effective policies that help prevent violence in the workplace. In fact, workplace violence often starts by not being consistent or showing favoritism.
No Discrimination Allowed
Under New York’s Human Rights Law, workplace violence victims cannot face employment discrimination for taking time off from work to meet with a lawyer, go to court, visit with a doctor or counselor, or recuperate from injuries. Employers are also required to reasonably accommodate a workplace violence victim, such as by providing additional leave or modifying a work schedule. An accommodation is not required if it would cause an “undue hardship” on the employer.
Contact Us for More Information About Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation is available for workplace injuries, which may include violence. Your employer should not discriminate against you for filing a claim involving workplace violence.
If you have suffered injuries due to violence in the workplace, make sure to seek legal help. White Plains workers’ compensation lawyer Michael Lawrence Varon can help you understand the laws that apply. Schedule a free consultation by calling (914) 228-1770 or filling out the online form.