Receiving compensation after a workplace violence incident
Unfortunately, workplace violence is more common than you may realize. Although most workforce settings are safe, incidents involving violence are increasing, with 2 million injured yearly across the U.S.
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace violence is the third-leading cause of workplace fatalities.
In Arizona, violent incidents account for 17 percent of workplace fatalities, which is a troubling statistic. When these incidents happen, workers’ compensation is responsible for covering medical and lost wages expenses in most circumstances—but not all.
What types of violence happens in the workplace?
Violence affects all kinds of workplaces and can happen at any time. In recent years, mass shootings and riots have become an issue. Some of the employees that are most at risk for workplace violence include:
- Delivery drivers and mail carriers
- Teachers and school administrators
- Bank tellers and cashiers
- Retail store employees
There are specific types of incidents that can impact workers in any industry.
Active shooting incidents
Active shooter incidents are an example of workplace violence that might require workers’ compensation. Shooting victims may end up with severe injuries that impact their ability to work, possibly leading to further disability.
Domestic violence incidents
Domestic violence-related incidents can also occur on the job. In a majority of cases, the party responsible is a former or current spouse or partner of the injured worker. Victims of domestic violence may receive traumatic injuries from physical assault or the use of weapons.
Sometimes, a current or former worker may assault another worker. Injuries from guns, knives or physical assault are common in these incidents, causing injuries of varying severity levels.
Angry customers who refuse requests from business staff to desist or leave can cause a violent incident. Healthcare and social workers often end up injured while taking care of mentally or emotionally disturbed patients.
Workers in retail settings are often injured during robberies. Gunshot or knife wounds commonly occur in these situations. Employees injured during a robbery often report being shoved, thrown or forcibly confined during the incident, or being shoved or trampled while others try to flee.
Workplace assault and similar violent acts can occur on and off the job site.
Does workers’ compensation cover workplace violence?
Arizona, like other states, offers workers’ compensation for injuries caused by workplace violence. In most cases, the injury would be covered if it occurs in the process of doing your job.
But first, you need to prove that the injury happened in the context of completing your job. A common reason for denials is no connection between the workplace and the injuries.
Keep in mind is that Arizona has a no-fault system, enabling workers to receive compensation, even if they played a part.
Questions and answers about compensation for a job-related accident, injury or illness in Arizona
How to file a workers’ compensation claim in Arizona
The process for getting help after an incident occurs at work may seem overwhelming. You may know you need assistance, but not know the best way to make sure you get that help.
Reporting the workplace assault or incident to your employer as soon as possible after it occurs is essential, so you have the best chances of getting the compensation that you need. Your employer may try to deny benefits if you have any delays in reporting the incident.
Here is the general procedure that you will need to follow for applying for workers’ compensation following a workplace injury caused by on-the-job violence:
- If the situation is an emergency, get the medical care that you need first. Emergency care is especially crucial in the event of a gunshot or stab wound.
- Notify your employer about what happened. You don’t want to try to ride your injury out or delay until things worsen and would be more challenging to treat.
- Keep all the documentation that you get from the doctor during your visit. The documentation will provide you with information on your condition, as well as how to provide care for yourself.
- File your claim with the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) as soon as possible. You will have up to 1 year to file your application; however, filing sooner is always better.
The whole process of filing an Arizona workers’ compensation claim can be somewhat overwhelming. However, getting the help of a lawyer who specializes in these cases could help your case have a better outcome.