We spend a lot of time at work, with some people in certain professions spending over 60 hours a week at the workplace or engaged in some type of work. Although the workplace is generally a safe place, that is not always true. When we first think of a workplace injury, we often think of a slip and fall, lifting injury, or another traditional work-related accident through workers’ comp. However, workplace violence is also another common cause of injuries in the United States and in New York. According to statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, almost 21,000 people are seriously injured every year due to workplace violence. That is a staggering figure when you realize that many instances of workplace violence are often unreported. After suffering injuries, many individuals call our workers’ compensation lawyers in NYC and ask whether they can get workers’ compensation for workplace violence in New York.
Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends.”
Indeed, whether an individual may recover workers’ compensation benefits for workplace violence depends on many factors. Oftentimes an insurance adjuster will try to use every exception possible to encourage you to not apply for WC benefits. In fact, sometimes your employer will also encourage you to not apply for WC benefits – even when you may be entitled to them. In instances like this, call an experienced team of workers’ compensation lawyers in NYC like ours at O’Connor Law to learn more about your rights to compensation. We offer FREE consultations and can help you and your family recover the WC benefits that you are entitled to under the law.
The definition of workplace violence is broader than some people may consider which could allow WC benefits to apply in certain instances. For example, OSHA defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.” This includes actions from coworkers and third-parties. When it comes to workplace violence, there are certain types that will always be considered eligible for WC benefits, some that will sometimes be considered eligible for benefits, and others that will not be. Whether or not it applies depends on a variety of circumstances.
The most obvious category of individuals who may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits for workplace violence are responders who suffer a line of duty injury. For individuals that work to protect and serve, fight fires, respond to medical emergencies, and engage in other necessary services, workplace violence could mean a third-party’s action. Whether that is handcuffing a violent criminal or handling a patient undergoing an emotional crisis, injuries sustained by first responders during these types of scenarios are generally covered by workers’ comp. Expanding this view further, that also means that individuals who have jobs where there is a chance for friction and injury may also recover compensation for workplace violence. That includes correction officers, bar or restaurant bouncers, home health aides, security staff, hospital staff, and other individuals who may be working with the general public or special populations.
Individuals may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits for co-worker violence committed against them. This depends on the insurance policy itself and the conduct, as well as whether the employer or a manager knew or should have known about the propensity for violence. Thus, an individual injured due to workplace violence from a co-worker may be entitled to WC benefits. An exception that many insurance carriers will try to argue is that the workplace violence actually occurred outside the scope of employment. That may include conduct that occurred outside work such as at a work-related function with all coworkers (which if it was mandatory, it will likely cover for WC), versus a weekend meetup with some coworkers where an assault occurs (likely will not be covered by WC). To determine whether your injuries qualify, you’ll need to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in NYC.
In general, any self-harm will not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Some drug or alcohol-related injuries may also be excluded. Injuries that are caused in an accident during annual leave, sick leave, or vacation time may also not qualify for workers’ comp benefits. There are, however, always exceptions. Individuals may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits for self-harm if there was some other precipitating event. For instance, a victim suffering prolonged workplace harassment, bullying, and even violence from coworkers may be entitled to WC benefits for self-harm injuries if it can be proven that the self-harm was a product of emotional distress caused by the coworkers’ unlawful conduct. This is a very hard argument to make, and it is often vehemently opposed, which is why you need to hire an experienced workers’ comp law firm like O’Connor Law.
If you suffered any type of workplace injury due to workplace violence in New York, speak with a compassionate and experienced attorney at O’Connor Law to learn more about your rights to WC benefits. We can review your claim and investigate what rights you may have under New York law, including whether you may be entitled to file a third-party action. To learn more about your rights to workers’ compensation and possible other forms of compensation for workplace violence injuries, call our experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in NYC at O’Connor Law to schedule a FREE consultation by dialing (844) 692-6671 or by sending us a private message through our “Contact Us” box available here.