WORKPLACE VIOLENCE: IS IT COVERED BY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION?

bernard d nomberg

by Bernard D. Nomberg, Partner, The Nomberg Law Firm

Following the news that President Trump has closed borders to seven countries, many took to the airports to voice their frustrations. A reported 3,000 people peacefully rallied in Birmingham on January 29, 2017.  As strikes and protests began to emerge at airports across the United States, the safety of airport employees and other working individuals was called into question. Any time there is a strike or protest, there is a risk of violence. But if violence erupts and an employee is injured as a result, who pays the bill?

In New York, Governor Cuomo passed legislation to strengthen protections for airport employees against workplace assault. But airports aren’t the only places where employees face potential violence. After Trump’s inauguration, protestors smashed windows of local businesses, including a Starbucks. Protestors aren’t the only danger, however. Other employees can become hostile and incite violence.

An assault can happen anywhere at any time for any reason. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports than more than 2 million employees fall victim to workplace violence each year.[1] These assaults can happen on company premises, off-site job locations, or while making deliveries. Thankfully, workers’ compensation gives employees injured from an assault the benefits they need to pay for medical expenses and lost wages.  If an employee is injured while working in the line and scope of their employment, then they will be covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.  In other words, if the employee is performing his job duties, is injured, then workers’ compensation benefits apply.

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Workers’ compensation is not the only remedy an injured employee might be able to recover, however. An employee victim of assault may pursue a third party action for failure to protect them from undue harm and injury in the workplace. If a third party failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent the incident, they may be civilly liable. Instances where this may apply include failing to perform a background check, or failing to discipline an employee with aggressive behavior tendencies.

Whether it’s airport security or a Starbuck’s barista, any employee subjected to workplace violence may recover workers’ compensation benefits in order to recoup the costs of medical expenses and lost wages. If assaulted, be sure to document the injuries and immediately file a claim.

Our Firm has represented many employees over the years injured while working due to assault.  If you have been injured at work and have questions about Alabama workers’ compensation benefits, please call us today to discuss your rights. (205) 930-6900.

[1] https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/

Bernard D. Nomberg has practiced workers’ compensation law in Alabama for more than 20 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating.  He has been selected a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine as well as a Top Rated Attorney by B-Metro Magazine. 

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