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Does Pennsylvania Workers’ Comp Cover Injuries Caused by Violence?

Workers’ compensation provides no-fault coverage for on-the-job injuries and illnesses. When most people think about workers’ comp and work injuries as a whole, they think of accidents like falls, being hit by equipment, or traffic collisions. Sometimes, however, a person may be injured at work as the result of an intentional act: an attack or assault. Are these injuries covered as well?

In Pennsylvania, workers’ compensation covers all work-related injuries. This would, therefore, include any injuries that an employee experienced at the workplace or while doing their job duties. If that employee is attacked or assaulted and injured, workers’ compensation may cover those injuries just as it would cover injuries sustained in an accident.

Workers’ compensation claims are determined on a case-by-case basis, however, so it’s important to talk to a lawyer about your unique situation. In addition to arranging a free consultation with one of our experienced Pennsylvania workers’ comp lawyers, you can read more about workplace violence and your rights below.

Workplace Violence Statistics

According to the latest workplace violence statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 20,870 private industry workers missed work in 2019 as a result of the physical harm and/or psychological trauma they experienced as a result of workplace violence. 21% of these workers needed to take 31 or more days off work to recover. 68% of victims were female, and 70% worked in healthcare and social assistance.

According to occupational fatality statistics from 2018:

  • 453 workers died as a result of workplace violence.
  • 82% of these workers were male.
  • 20% worked in sales and related occupations.

Types of Workplace Violence

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), there are four primary types of workplace violence:

  • Criminal Intent. This refers to acts of workplace violence that involve an attempt or intent to commit a crime, such as robbery or trespassing. In these situations, the person who commits an act of violence does not usually have any official relationship with the business or its employees.
  • Customer/Client. This type of violence occurs between a client or customer and an employee. Visitors, vendors, and suppliers may also be included in this category.
  • Worker-on-Worker. Here, the violence occurs between two employees. It may range in severity from verbal bullying or abuse all the way to sexual assault or even homicide. Worker-on-worker violence may occur between peers or employees with different levels of authority, although lower-level workers are more frequently the target of this type of workplace violence.
  • Personal Relationship. This involves violence at the workplace that comes from personal relationships, like an abusive spouse who follows their partner to work.

When we understand the type of workplace violence, such as worker-on-worker versus criminal intent, we can get a better picture of whether workers’ compensation would apply. We can also determine whether a third party (someone other than an employer or co-worker) would share legal responsibility.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Workplace Violence Injuries

As long as an injury is work-related, it should be covered by workers’ compensation. This includes injuries caused by carelessness or negligence as well as those caused by intentional wrongdoing. In Pennsylvania, an injured worker may be able to recover benefits for all medical treatment associated with the injury and also a portion of their lost wages, usually two-thirds of their pay to a maximum amount set forth by Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law.

An employee may not be covered by workers’ compensation if they instigated or provoked the attack. Employees under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs may also see their workers’ comp benefits jeopardized.

Third-Party Lawsuits for Workplace Violence

In cases where a third party holds some or all of the responsibility for a workplace attack or assault, that individual or company can be held liable in court. A third-party personal injury lawsuit has the potential to dramatically increase the compensation an injured employee is eligible to receive, as it could cover all lost wages, loss of future earnings, medical care, emotional trauma, and more.

Your Employer Has a Duty to Keep You Safe at Work

Workplace safety extends to all areas of protecting employees’ health and well-being. This includes things like safety equipment, proper training, and keeping the work environment free from hazards. It also includes taking reasonable security measures to protect employees at the worksite, like cameras, proper lighting, metal detectors, security personnel, gates, and other measures that suit the occupation and location.

Employers also have an obligation to take reports of bullying, sexual harassment, and all forms of workplace violence seriously. They must act on these reports in accordance with Pennsylvania law and cannot fire, demote, or otherwise penalize an employee for reporting workplace violence, safety violations, or work injuries. Employees cannot be fired for seeking workers’ compensation benefits. Employers who violate workers’ rights in these ways can be held accountable in court.

Talk to a Pennsylvania Workplace Violence Injury Lawyer

Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC has a long history of protecting workers throughout Pennsylvania. Our attorneys understand which laws and procedures apply to workplace violence cases and can handle workers’ compensation and personal injury lawsuits for these. We also know how to hold employers responsible for wrongful termination or other clear violations of employees’ rights, and we will stop at nothing to make sure our clients get the fair, complete compensation and support they deserve after being mistreated or harmed at work.

To find out how we can help with a workplace violence case, call (888) 498-3023.

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