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Workplace Violence and Worker’s Compensation Claims

We all hope that we never have to experience a violent situation, especially not at our workplace. Sadly, it does happen that an employee gets sexually harassed or assaulted by a coworker, a boss or a client. Work should be a place of respect and professionalism at all times.

Employers owe a duty of reasonable care to their employees to prevent violence in the workplace and must take care to minimize the risk of such acts. If an incident happened and you wish to pursue a negligence claim, you must prove that your employer knew or should have predicted that there was a threat and they failed to eliminate it.

OSHA and Workplace Violence Prevention

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) requires employers to provide a hazard free workplace safe from conditions that are likely to lead to a severe injury or death. This is interpreted as a duty to prevent threats or acts of violence in the workplace as well. There is no federal law regarding workplace violence prevention.

The agency that enforces federal health and safety laws, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), may issue fines when incidents of violence happen that an employer failed to protect their employees from.

The OSH Act does not afford employees an opportunity to sue their employers for any injuries caused by workplace violence. Usually an employee must go through worker’s compensation for work-related complaints, people typically can’t sue their employers for negligence or other civil actions.

Pursuing a Worker’s Compensation Claim

Awards from worker’s compensation benefit are generally less than what a plaintiff may be awarded in a civil case. Wage loss and permanent disability pay outs are capped by federal law in worker’s compensation cases and worker’s compensation often does not cover emotional damages such as “pain and suffering” that may affect a victim of workplace violence. In  some civil lawsuits, the majority of an award is for emotional damages.

State laws vary regarding exceptions allowing an employee to sue an employer for injuries caused by workplace violence. In some states, the situation is subject to worker’s compensation when the incident happens on-duty or when completing a work-related assignment.

The option to pursue a civil suit against the third party that caused the violence is always open, but it isn’t always a practical option. Coworkers and other third parties may not have the income to pay off a judge’s order for award, so the suit may lead nowhere.

Hire Representation

Regardless of your situation, you should contact an attorney who is experienced in sexual harassment and/or workplace violence cases. An employment or worker’s compensation attorney can help you navigate the application process and help you estimate the damages you have suffered. You do not have to go through this alone, contact an attorney today that can support you and help you win the compensation you deserve. Reach out to an experienced Workers Comp Attorneys Nassau County trusts if you need more legal advice.

Thank you to Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C for providing their insight on worker’s compensation.

 


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