Workplace Assault Injuries
Assaults cause thousands of on-the-job injuries each year. Almost 2 million workers in the U.S. report being victims of workplace violence in a typical year. Unreported incidents would push that total much higher, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Workplace assaults were, in fact, the No. 4 cause of workplace fatalities in the U.S. in one recent year, accounting for 403 of 4,679 deadly work accidents.
The workplace injury attorneys at the Kenton Koszdin Law Office have more than a decade of experience with represented injured and disabled workers. We are here to fight for the compensation you need after a workplace assault causes serious injuries. We are prepared to talk you through the process while taking care of all the filings and forms. If your claim has been denied, we are equipped to appeal if necessary. Call or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.
Workers At Risk for Assault Injuries
Data indicate that health-care workers, paramedics, police, and other emergency personnel are at greatest risk of assault because they often deal with unstable people. Public service workers, people handling money and the public, delivery drivers, and customer service agents also face greater risk. However, any worker could suffer an on-the-job assault.
Risk factors cross occupational lines. Factors shown to raise the risk of workplace violence include these from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):
- Contact with the public
- Exchange of money
- Delivery of passengers, goods, or services
- Having a mobile workplace such as a taxicab or police cruiser
- Working alone or in small numbers
- Working late at night or in the early morning
- Working in high-crime areas
- Guarding valuable property or possessions
Other employees at high risk for workplace violence are taxi drivers, police, private guards, fast-food restaurant managers, and hotel-motel managers. Here are the leading sectors for workplace violence:
- Education and health services
- Professional and business services
- Leisure and hospitality
- Financial activities
- Transportation and warehousing
Injuries typical to criminal assault – wounds from the full range of weapons, from guns to fists – are the product of workplace violence. And a study on workplace violence found that 18 percent of violent crimes occurred while the victim was working. The nonfatal crimes included sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault.
The top cause of workplace homicide is robbery. Taxi drivers’ workplace homicide risk is about 36 times the national average.
What Is Considered Occupational Violence?
Workplace violence is actual or threatened physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or disruptive behavior at work – up to and including homicide. Victims and perpetrators can be employees, clients, customers, or visitors.
The NIOSH lists four categories of workplace violence. They are:
- Criminal intent: This violence happens during a planned crime. The attacker usually is not connected to the business or the victim. Examples are robbery, shoplifting, and trespassing. This is the least common form of workplace violence.
- Worker-client: This workplace violence most commonly occurs in health-care settings, and it has been labeled client-on-worker violence. It has been reported most frequently in emergency care and psychiatric treatment scenarios.
- Worker-worker: This is workplace violence between co-workers. It typically surfaces as bullying.
- Personal relationship: The victims here usually are women, and the offender typically is a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend/relative not employed at the workplace. This category can include worker-worker and client-worker relationships, too.
Can the Attacker Be Charged Criminally?
The simple answer to whether someone can go to prison for workplace violence is yes. Crime is crime. There are, however, special considerations in the California Penal Code for workplace violence.
Convicted attackers face a minimum of six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000 for assaulting a nurse, firefighter, emergency medical technician, mobile intensive care paramedic, lifeguard, process server, traffic officer, code enforcement officer, animal control officer, or search-and-rescue official engaged in official duties.
California law requires that “every employer shall furnish employment and a place of employment that is safe and healthful for the employees therein.” That includes prevention of workplace violence.
Since April 2017, the California Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care law has mandated that employers in health care settings have a written workplace violence prevention plan. The law’s name and focus underscore the prevalence of workplace violence in health care settings.
However, it’s important to remember that criminal punishment for workplace violence is a separate matter from responsibility for compensating victims for their losses. Regardless what happens in the criminal system, victims of workplace violence may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits or other forms of compensation for their injuries and other expenses.
What to Do If You Were Assaulted at Work
The first and most pressing action is to preserve life and limb during the attack. Then seek law enforcement and medical help if necessary, and make sure management knows what has happened. Be prepared to share details, too, so taking notes about what happened and who saw it could be helpful. Pictures could be useful, too.
If injuries from the attack diminish or even end your capacity to work, be prepared to use the details you have gathered to fight for financial and medical assistance. As long as you were not the initial aggressor and the assault was related to your occupation, you stand a good chance of being eligible for workers’ compensation.
If You Are Fighting for Workers’ Comp, We Can Help
The Kenton Koszdin Law Office has served Southern California for over a decade with a focus on helping disabled and injured people. In fact, Kenton Koszdin began practicing law because of personal experience that makes workers’ compensation and Social Security disability cases special to him.
Contact us today for a free, no obligation case evaluation. A free in-home consultation is an option, too.