Workplace Violence and Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers' compensation insurance protects employees who have suffered from work related injuries. These claims usually involve accidents, or injuries that occurred over a long period of performing a task as is the case with carpal tunnel syndrome, for example. We do not typically think of workers' compensation in terms of violent actions or assaults, however, in many cases an employee who is injured as the result of a workplace-related assault will be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits.
When is assault compensable through workers' compensation?
In Georgia, for any workers' compensation claim to be approved, the injury has to be work related. If you suffer an injury while at your place of work, or while carrying out a work related duty, you are eligible for collecting workers' compensation. The system is not fault based, which means that even if you were injured in a fall because you are simply a clumsy person, you would still be eligible to recover as long as you were working at the time of the accident.
In the case of assaults, states may vary as to whether you are covered if the attack is personal (an angry friend, significant other or relative who just happens to attack you while you are at work). However, if you are assaulted by someone at work, and it is work related, as in a customer, client or co-worker, you would likely be eligible to collect workers' compensation benefits. This would be the case even if it were in no way the fault of your employer. For instance, if you were working at a coffee shop, and a customer came in who had never been there before, and ordered a coffee, and then threw it at you, causing burns, you would be eligible to collect workers' compensation benefits.
You could forfeit your right to collect workers' compensation if you actually started the fight. For instance, if you hit your co-worker, and were hit back and suffered an injury, you would likely be prevented from collecting workers' compensation.
Regardless, if you suffered any workplace injury, whether from an assault or any other cause, you should consult with an attorney to discuss the specific facts of your case. You be be eligible to pursue a personal injury claim in addition to workers' compensation if you were injured on the job because of a third party.
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