Episode 53: Calloway County workers’ compensation attorney Jeff Roberts discusses factors involved in workplace violence and workers’ comp claims. Jeff has represented clients involved in these types of situations. News reports of violent incidents seem to be increasing. What happens if you are injured at work caused by workplace violence? Jeff will provide information for you and your family.
What Is Workplace Violence?
The majority of cases Jeff has dealt with involved physical altercations (i.e. fights). He’s represented many police officers involved in scuffles with the person being arrested. Convenience store employees can be involved in workplace violence. Bar bouncers may also get injured while dealing with out of control patrons, as well. Injuries sustained by these incidents usually qualify for Kentucky workers’ compensation benefits.
As you can imagine, there is a wide range of situations from fights to unfortunately, homicide at the place of employment. Jeff discussed workplace fatalities in Episode 36 of the podcast.
An injury must occur for a worker’s compensation claim. The injury can be intentional or unintentional. Many people immediately think about criminal charges, but this does not mean a workers’ comp claim isn’t available. If you’re on the job, it typically would be covered, although there are exceptions. If the incident isn’t related to a work issue, because it’s a personal issue, it may not qualify. It’s always good to consult an experienced attorney to discuss your specific situation.
A simple rule of thumb is that if it involves a co-worker or other employee of the company or vendor, it’s probably covered. Jeff explains that you could qualify for medical expenses, lost wages and permanent disability.
In certain situations, you may also have the option of pursuing a civil suit against the other person. This would basically be treated as a personal injury claim.
First Responders and Workers’ Compensation
In Episode 51, Jeff discussed first responders and how only certain types of PTSD are covered. Kentucky law currently requires the PTSD to result from a physical trauma, not simply the situation itself. It’s a very unfortunate loophole in the law that Jeff hopes many more people will become aware of and demand changes to the law.
This requirement for physical trauma requirement is also required for a non-first responder to have a valid workers’ compensation claim for PTST. If there was no physical contact, you may not qualify.
Were You on Company Time?
Jeff discusses a hypothetical situation involving a sales rep or route deliver person who gets injured while traveling for business. In this example, assume the employee gets into an altercation while having dinner, on the road.
The situation is very fact specific. If the altercation occurs after work hours or during time unrelated to company business, the sales professional or driver may not have a valid workers’ compensation claim.
However, if the individual was in the process of making a sales call and is randomly shot or is a victim of road rage, this situation may qualify for Kentucky workers’ comp benefits.
What if the Injury Results from Horseplay?
Granted, from time to time, people will get involved in horseplay while at work. Pranks get pulled and usually no one gets hurt. However, sometimes an injury results from horseplay. If the person injured was engaging in horseplay, at the time of the injury, he/she may not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Jeff explains that if a co-worker pulls a prank and the person was not engaged in the activity, it may be a compensable injury. For instance, if someone shoots a rubber band at you and it hits you in the eye, this may qualify – assuming you were not engaging in the horseplay.
Criminal Charges and Your Workers’ Comp Claim
If an employee is injured due to workplace violence, there’s a good chance that criminal charges will be filed against the person causing the injury. Do the criminal charges need to be resolved before a workers’ comp claim can be filed?
Jeff explains that these are handled separately, but they can be pursued at the same time. The person being charged may not have anything to do with the actual workers’ comp claim.
If there’s a civil case against the person who caused the injury, the criminal case will probably be handled before the civil (e.g. personal injury) case, because the person charged will not want to make statements in the civil case that may self-incriminate himself or herself. However, this still does not affect the workers’ comp claim.
Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim?
In Kentucky, there are laws prohibiting an employer from retaliating against an employee for filing a comp claim. Don’t let this fear stop you from pursuing a workers’ compensation claim for your work-related injuries, including those resulting from workplace violence.
If an employer retaliates against you, you could have a civil suit against the employer, as well.
Jeff Roberts Represents Injured Clients Throughout Kentucky
With offices located in Calloway County and now Christian County, Jeff has a history of representing personal injury clients, workers’ compensation clients and social security disability clients across the state. He’s represented clients from Paducah, Bowling Green, Louisville, Covington, Whitesville and many other Kentucky locations. He’s not just a Western Kentucky injury attorney.
We hope you found this episode insightful and helpful. Thank you for listening!
Is It Time to Speak with an Attorney about Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The office phone number is (270) 753-0053 or toll free at 800-844-5108. For more information, visit www.JeffRobertsLaw.com. This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice. Jeff’s principal office is located at 509 Main Street, Murray, Kentucky. Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson. This is an advertisement.