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Assaulted By A Coworker? What Workers Should Understand

Unfortunately, some workers end up being hurt by their coworkers. When that occurs, workers may wonder about their insurance coverage. The coverage of an assault by a coworker under workers' compensation insurance can vary depending on the circumstances and the laws in the specific state.

The key factor in determining coverage is whether the assault occurred within the scope of employment or during employment. Read on for what to know about workplace violence and workers' compensation:

  • Assault Within Scope of Employment: If the assault occurred during work hours and within the workplace premises, workers' compensation may cover the injured employee's medical expenses, lost wages, and potentially other benefits, regardless of whether the assault was perpetrated by a coworker. Workplace violence can often be the result of a worker with mental issues. For example, a fired worker may return to the workplace with a weapon and fire at workers randomly. This sort of situation is usually covered under workers' compensation insurance. 
  • Personal Dispute: If the assault was the result of a personal dispute unrelated to work duties or occurred outside the workplace premises, workers' compensation may not apply. In such cases, the injured employee might need to seek compensation through other means, such as pursuing a personal injury claim against the coworker. For example, a coworker may physically attack another because of jealousy over a promotion. That would be considered a personal dispute. 
  • Work-Related Factors: Some cases may fall into a gray area where the assault has both work-related and personal factors. In such instances, whether workers' compensation applies can be subject to legal interpretation and may vary based on the specific circumstances of the case and the laws of the jurisdiction.
  • Intentional Acts Exclusion: In some states, workers' compensation laws may include an intentional acts exclusion. This means that if the assault was intentional, and there is evidence to prove that the coworker intended to cause harm, the injured employee may not be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. However, this can vary by state.

The victim of an assault at the workplace needs to report the incident to their employer as soon as possible and seek medical attention if needed. They should also consult with an experienced workers' compensation attorney to understand their rights and explore the available options for compensation.

Workers' compensation laws can be complex, and the specific details of each case matter. Consulting a legal professional can provide personalized guidance and help navigate the process of seeking compensation for injuries resulting from a workplace assault. For more information, contact a work injury attorney near you.