Most people take for granted that they will be safe at work. It’s the one place where most people spend the bulk of their waking hours, and it is the one place where the last thing you want to worry about is your safety. Workers’ compensation is a state program which offers a temporary disability benefit for workers who have been injured while they were working, but will it cover injuries if you are the victim of a violent attack at work?
What is workplace violence?
You have likely seen news footage of employees filing out of their workplace after an act of workplace violence such as a shooting has taken place. The North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) defines workplace violence as, “violence or the threat of violence against workers. It can occur at or outside the workplace and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide, one of the leading causes of job-related deaths.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports that homicide is the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States, and it is a major concern for employers and employees nationwide. Each year, according to OSHA, about 2 million workers will report having been victims of workplace violence each year, although many cases go unreported. The following types of jobs and work situations may be at greater risk for workplace violence:
- Exchanging money with the public (retail, banking, etc.)
- Working with volatile, unstable people
- Working alone or in isolated locations
- Working late at night
- Working in a high crime area
- Delivery drivers
- Health care workers
- Public service workers
- Customer service workers
- Law enforcement
In North Carolina, an occupational injury from an act of workplace violence could be covered by workers’ compensation if the violence has a connection to the job. For example, an employee shot by a co-worker who brings a gun to the workplace to settle a dispute, even if the dispute is unrelated to work, may be entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. Likewise, a worker who is disgruntled because of a dispute over working conditions, job pressure, or any workplace-specific matter incites a violent incident, injures that occur may be covered by workers’ compensation.
If you have been injured in a workplace violence incident, be sure to report your injury to your employer right away and then seek medical treatment. Let your healthcare provider know that the injury is work-related so that it can be billed as a workers’ compensation claim. The North Carolina Industrial Commission has workers’ compensation claims forms that you can complete and submit through email. Provide your employer with written notice about the accident and the injury. Follow the advice and treatment instructions from your medical provider.
If you have been injured at work, or if you have been diagnosed with an occupational disease, the Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers at Warren & Kallianos, PLLC can help you get justice when you are facing a dispute with your employer’s insurer. We have nearly 60 years of combined experience fighting for those injured in the workplace in North Carolina. You are welcome to schedule your free case consultation by calling 704-377-7777 or completing our contact form.