In California, like other US states, workers’ comp covers medical costs and offers other benefits to covered workers who sustain an injury on the job. However, what if your injury or accident is caused by workplace violence? Are workers who get injured this way still eligible for worker’s compensation benefits?
It is common for disagreements and arguments to arise in a California workplace. Did you know that workplace violence is a growing and serious issue, especially impacting nurses and other healthcare workers, and their patients?
Other employees at a higher risk of workplace violence are delivery drivers and gas station attendants. There is no doubt that when arguments become physical, they may lead to harm and injuries that cause physical and emotional trauma and loss of income.
You will be glad to know that employees who sustain injuries at work can usually recover workers’ comp benefits for their costs and losses, even if a violent act caused the damage.
What is Workplace Violence?
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines workplace violence as any threat or act of physical violence, intimidation, harassment, or other threatening disruptive behavior or action that happens at the worksite. Keep in mind that the term encompasses everything from threats of violence, such as intimidation, to the violent acts themselves.
CDC reveals that an average of 20 employees are murdered on the job each week, and about 18,000 workers are assaulted in their workplace, which is concerning. Did you know that out of 5,147 workplace casualties in 2017, more than 450 were the result of violence?
Workers at a Higher Risk for Workplace Violence
It is no secret that an act of violence may happen in any kind of work environment; however, research has indicated that there are specific factors that increase the risk of violence.
You should know that employees who usually work alone or during late-night shifts in parts of California with a high crime rate can be at a higher risk, including:
Taxi or rideshare drivers
Nurse and healthcare professionals
Utility or public service workers
Customer service reps
Law enforcement personnel
Gas station workers
Others who frequently exchange money
Harm Caused by Workplace Violence Injuries
Keep in mind that California employers have a legal obligation to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for their employees that’s free of recognized risks and dangers that may cause serious injuries. And these dangers include threats and acts of physical violence. Even if your California employer takes steps and measures to keep you and your coworkers safe, remember that many instances and cases of workplace violence occur in California every year, such as robberies.
Note that California employers must provide workers’ comp benefits to workers who suffer workplace harm and sustain, pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Act. As a result, if you can demonstrate that an injury or accident caused by a violent act arose out of your employment as well as during the course of performance of your job-related duties, you may get compensation.
However, keep in mind that whether an injury caused by a violent act or criminal act renders a worker eligible for worker’s compensation benefits depends on the circumstances and facts of the case.
Examples of Workplace Violence
Some common examples of workplace violence injuries and harm that can constitute reasonable grounds for worker’s compensation benefits are harm caused by a violent break-in or robbery at a convenience store and wounds and injuries caused by a patient sexually assaulting a home healthcare aid or a nurse.
Other forms of workplace violence in California include:
Physical harm to a worker at the hands of a customer, client, or guest
Discriminatory threats and violent acts against people of a specific race, color, religion, etc.
Sexual assault and battery
Benefits and Compensation Recoverable for Workplace Violence Injuries
You may be granted medical benefits and disability benefits if you suffer workplace violence injuries that are considered work-related. Did you know that disability benefits are designed to offset wage loss workers experience because of work-related harm?
And people who suffer lasting and severe harm because of their workplace injuries can be awarded total disability or permanent partial benefits. Keep in mind that the benefits paid to employees suffering permanent partial disability will considerably vary depending on their permanent disability rating. The rating indicates the extent to which these employees are disabled.
And medical benefits usually cover the expenses of any treatment workers require for their work-related injuries, including hospitalizations and prescriptions.
Proving Workers’ Compensation Entitlement for Workplace Violence
While not all forms of workplace violence in California allow you access to workers’ comp, you should always consult and hire an experienced and trained workers’ compensation attorney if you are not sure.
Generally, you must demonstrate or prove that the violence you suffered was related to work. This implies that workplace violence that happens in the context of your personal, romantic relationship might not qualify you for worker’s comp benefits, even though it’s technically still deemed workplace violence.
Contact a California Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Have you suffered a workplace violence injury? If so, you should meet with an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights. James Latimer at the Law Offices of James E. Latimer is a capable workers’ compensation lawyer committed to helping employees hurt at work who seek redress for their losses.
Navigating the complex workers’ comp process in California for a workplace violence claim can be both complicated and confusing. Keep in mind that some cases are black and white. On the other hand, some can have significant gray areas because of the motivation factor. A dedicated workers’ compensation attorney can listen to all the facts of your case and then appropriately advise you on how to proceed.
If you are not sure whether the violent incident should be covered by California Workers’ Compensation, you will benefit from speaking with a reliable attorney. The team at the Law Offices of James E. Latimer will help guide you through the complicated process of applying for workers’ compensation benefits, ensuring you are treated reasonably and fairly.
Our team of skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced attorneys has a deep understanding of California workers’ compensation laws. Get in touch with our office right now to schedule a consultation at 510-444-6555.