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If hurt in a fight at work, can I get workers' compensation?

Civility is an important element of a productive workplace. To foster an appropriate environment, employer policies often ban certain behaviors, such as foul language and physical violence.

 

Policies, however, do not always prevent bad behavior. If a fight or assault at work leaves you injured, it is fair to ask if you are entitled to workers' compensation. The answer is that it depends.

Was there a connection to work?

The law presumes that if an assault or fight happened while at work, it arose out of work and would be covered under the law. On that basis, it would seem legitimate to seek workers' compensation for any medical treatment that might be necessary. However, insurance companies will do what they can to deny the claim, especially if they believe there was no connection to work. If there is some provable connection between the motivation for the fight or assault and the work, it will be considered work-related.

Consider the following hypothetical situation:

You and a co-worker get into a heated argument in the break room and the co-worker hurls a kitchen appliance at you that leaves you with a gash on your head. These facts might support a claim for workers' compensation. But imagine there is long-standing animosity between you and the other worker and you went to work that day with the intent of provoking him or her and hurting them. You sparked the argument and then the other worker threw the appliance. These facts might not support a claim when the details regarding intent are added.

Success in seeking workers' compensation often depends on being able to show clearly that:

  • Events were sufficiently connected to work
  • The aggressor who hurt you did so with willful intention

When evaluating a workers’ compensation claim, it is clear all the facts must be considered.

Do you have workers’ comp questions?

If you want more information about workers’ compensation, contact an experienced attorney.

 

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