What You Need to Know About Workplace Violence & Workers' Compensation

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Violence in the workplace is startling. To many people, work is like a second home – a place where you feel safe and comfortable. One of the worst repercussions of workplace violence is the psychological effects it has on victims, other employees, and their families.

How often does workplace violence occur?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says over 2 million occurrences of workplace violence take place every year. Many of the instances are preventable. Employers can decrease the likelihood of workplace injury by developing a comprehensive prevention program, organizing occupational controls in different departments, and including the information in employee handbooks and during training programs.

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What causes workplace violence?

It’s difficult to understand why any violence occurs, especially when it happens in an environment perceived to be safe. However, the most common causes of workplace violence fall into four categories.

  • Criminal intent, and the perpetrator is completely unrelated to the business or the people working there – eg., a robbery at a convenience store.
  • An unhappy or frustrated customer or client becomes violent – eg., a hospital patient attacking a nurse.
  • A current or past employee attacks another employee
  • The perpetrator has a personal relationship with an employee

Additionally, there are rare cases of domestic terrorism, such as the 2015 San Bernardino attack and some school shootings.

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Can you receive Workers’ Compensation for injuries sustained due to workplace violence?

When a person is subjected to workplace violence, serious physical injuries may be involved. Workplace violence can also lead to psychological injuries, like post traumatic stress for the victims and witnesses. These injuries can last a lifetime. The financial burden of treatment and time spent unable to work, recuperating, can be ruinous.

Fortunately, there is recourse for workers injured by workplace violence: Workers’ Compensation. The laws vary state-by-state and by specific situation, but in most occurrences, a worker injured by violence can receive Workers’ Compensation.

California Workers’ Compensation

California requires employers to pay benefits if a worker is hurt on the job. It can be a fall, a cut, or a car accident during a delivery – that includes workplace violence. Injuries don’t have to be physical – psychological injuries on the job are also covered by California Workers’ Compensation. Workers’ Compensation pays for medical treatment like visits to the doctor, medications and surgeries, and more. It also provides indemnity benefits that are based on workers’ weekly wages.

While the law is clear that all injuries on the job are subject to Workers’ Compensation, there are areas where things get murky. It was only in October of 2017 that the question of Workers’ Compensation and domestic terrorism was even addressed. Additionally, first aggressor rules can complicate matters in cases involving pre-existing relationship between the attacker and the victim.

Given the serious nature of the physical and psychological injuries that can result from workplace violence, as well as the difficulty of navigating the Workers’ Compensation system, it is important for victims of workplace violence to hire a Workers’ Compensation attorney.

An attorney specializing in Workers’ Compensation will assess the situation and help you get the best possible outcome for your case. Workers’ Compensation attorneys deal with insurance companies and defense attorneys so that you can focus on the most important thing: your recovery.

If you've been a victim of workplace violence, schedule your free consultation with Pacific Workers' Compensation today. 

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