What is Workplace Violence?
Sadly, many California workers risk being subjected to workplace violence in their places of employment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies workplace violence as any threat or act of physical violence, intimidation, harassment, or other threatening disruptive behavior or action that happens in the workplace. The term “workplace violence” can include everything from threats of violence, such as intimidation, to the violent acts themselves.
Examples of workplace violence that may qualify injured employees for workers’ compensation include:
- A robbery at a convenience store causing injuries to the clerk
- Injuries sustained by a home healthcare aid or a nurse from a patient assault
- A customer, client, or guest causing physical harm to an employee
- Discriminatory threats and violent acts against people of a specific race, color, religion, or other protected classes
- Sexual assault and battery
Workers at a Higher Risk for Workplace Violence
The CDC reports an average of 20 employee murders on the job every week, as well as approximately 18,000 workers facing assault in the workplace. In 2017, there were 5,147 workplace deaths; sadly, over 450 resulted from violence.
However, workers in some industries are at a higher risk for workplace violence than others. It is no secret that an act of violence may happen in any work environment; however, research has indicated that certain job factors increase the risk of violence. For example, employees who usually work alone or late-night shifts in some areas of California with high crime rates are at a higher risk, including the following:
- Taxi or rideshare drivers
- Delivery drivers
- Law enforcement personnel
- Nurses and healthcare professionals
- Utility or public service workers
- Gas station workers
- Customer service reps
- Bar and nightclub employees
- Others who frequently exchange money in the course of their employment
Harm Caused by Workplace Violence Injuries
All California employers, including hospitals and other healthcare facilities, are legally obligated to maintain a healthy and safe work environment for all of their employees. In addition, the workplace must be free of known risks and dangers that can lead to severe injuries, including the dangers of threats and acts of physical violence.
Workplace violence can still happen even if your California employer takes action to keep you and your coworkers safe on the job. Far too many instances of California workplace violence occur yearly, such as robberies.
California employers must provide workers’ comp benefits to employees suffering workplace harm under California’s Workers’ Compensation Act. As a result, if you can show that an injury or accident caused by a violent act arose out of your employment as well as during the course of performing your job-related duties, you may get compensation.
If a violent or criminal act makes an employee eligible for workers’ compensation benefits will depend on the specific circumstances and facts of the case.
Benefits and Compensation Recoverable for Workplace Violence Injuries
If you have workplace violence injuries that are indeed work-related, you can receive medical and disability benefits. Disability benefits are meant to offset the wage loss that workers experience because they suffered work-related harm.
Additionally, individuals suffering long-term and severe harm because of workplace injuries may be eligible for total disability or permanent partial benefits. However, the benefits employees suffering permanent partial disability qualify for will vary greatly depending on their permanent disability rating or, rather, how disabled an injury has made an employee).
Medical benefits are usually available to cover the medical expenses for work-related injuries, including emergency care, hospitalizations, and prescriptions.
Proving Workers’ Compensation Entitlement for Workplace Violence
While not every act of workplace violence will make someone eligible to receive California workers’ comp benefits access, those injured by workplace violence should always meet with a skilled California workers’ compensation lawyer to find out if they might qualify for benefits.
To be eligible for workers’ comp benefits, injured workers must generally show that the violence they were subjected to was work-related. For example, if you were at work at the hospital and your ex-spouse came in and assaulted you, you may not qualify for workers’ comp benefits. Even though the assault took place, it didn’t happen because you were in the course of your work duties. On the other hand, if a patient or a family member assaulted you, it likely will qualify for workers’ comp benefits.
Sometimes workplace violence claims can be challenging to prove, which is why having an experienced workers’ comp attorney on your side is so important.
Getting Workers’ Compensation After Experiencing Workplace Violence
Assaults are traumatic for victims, no matter where they occur. No one should ever be subject to a violent attack, especially not while in the course of their employment. Even if an employee wasn’t seriously physically injured after an assault, they may still have suffered substantial emotional injuries. As a result, workers may have costs associated with their medical treatments as well as mental health care.
Injuries sustained at work—either through assault or another incident typically qualify for workers’ compensation. The injured worker must prove that their injury happened at work. As such, they must have been actively working and on the clock when the assault occurred in order for those injuries to be covered by workers’ comp. It also doesn’t matter if the assault was committed by a coworker or someone else; your injuries should still be covered.
What If My Employer Committed the Assault?
Suppose the owner of your company, boss, or supervisor was the one who committed the assault. In that case, you can seek additional compensation by filing a personal injury claim. In fact, being attacked by a manager or owner is typically classified as serious and willful misconduct. Therefore, it’s imperative for those in this situation to secure representation from a skilled attorney who can hold the assaulter accountable for their actions to the employee.
Contact Us Today for Your Free Consultation
If you think you might be a victim of workplace violence, no matter where you work, it’s in your best interest to contact a seasoned California workplace violence attorney. We offer complimentary workers’ compensation consultations. Contact us today to schedule yours.