WORKPLACE VIOLENCE: ON-THE-JOB ASSAULTS

Workplace violence is a leading cause of occupational injury.  Assaults can come from strangers, customers or patients, or even co-workers.  It’s important to recognize that injuries that result from an on-the-job assault can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits and what other benefits are available.

From a workers’ compensation standpoint, injuries resulting from an assault are covered by the law as long as there was a work-related basis for the assault.  If a stranger enters the workplace, or the assault comes from a customer, client or patient, then there is usually little question that the assault was work-related. 

However, where the assault involves a co-worker, workers’ comp only provides coverage if the basis of the argument was a dispute about work, not if it was for purely personal reasons.  The law also does not cover injuries that are the result of an effort to intentionally injure someone else.

In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, a victim of workplace violence may also be eligible for Crime Victim Compensation from the New York State Office of Victim Compensation.  An application for those benefits can be filed online at https://ovs.ny.gov/victim-compensation.

Injuries that result from an assault may also qualify for increased contractual or civil service benefits.  For example, in many civil service jobs the employer is permitted to terminate a worker after a one year absence from work, but if the injury was the result of an assault then the period is extended to two years.  Other employment policies or collective bargaining agreements provide specific benefits for injuries caused by an assault.  These additional benefits vary from employer to employer.

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