Workers’ compensation lawyers Florida from Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. have years of experience representing injured workers. They understand the physical and emotional impact a workplace injury can have on accident victims and their families.
If you are injured while at work or on the job, contact our legal team to learn about your rights and have someone fighting to ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to.
A common question we get is whether an accident victim can receive compensation after being assaulted at work or because of workplace violence. Keep reading to learn more about Florida law and whether you can receive workers’ compensation for this.
Understanding Workplace Violence
Workplace violence is a threat or act of violence that takes place while you are at work. It can include things like physical violence, threatening behavior, intimidation, or harassment. The severity of the incident varies, too, ranging from a situation that causes minor bruises and scrapes to one that results in more serious broken bones, head injuries, knife or gunshot wounds, and even homicide.
Cases of workplace violence aren’t exclusive to a certain person or group of people. It is something that can be perpetrated by people visiting your workplace, customers, co-workers, managers, and more.
How Common Is Workplace Violence in Florida?
Most people don’t realize how common workplace violence actually is. In 2020, approximately 9% of all workplace injuries in Florida were caused by another person. There are some jobs and industries that are considered more dangerous than others. In fact, cases of workplace violence that result in injuries are most commonly seen in the following occupations:
- Protective service activities.
- Social assistance industry.
Along with these occupations being more likely to deal with workplace violence, women are more commonly affected than men.
Common Types of Workplace Violence That May Occur
One of the most common examples of workplace violence is a fight that occurs between two employees. The fight may be work-related or a personal situation.
Some other types of workplace violence that occur include:
- Criminal activity: May occur if someone tries to vandalize or rob a business or worksite.
- Customer violence against an employee: Often occurs if a customer gets into a disagreement with an employee and the situation turns physical.
- Domestic violence: Occurs when an abusive spouse or partner comes to the workplace and is physically abusive.
- Active shooters: Disgruntled employees may come back to the workplace with a gun and shoot people.
Can You Receive Workers Compensation Benefits if Injured Due to Workplace Violence in Florida?
Usually, victims of workplace violence can collect workers’ compensation benefits in Florida. However, it’s necessary for the injured worker to provide proof that the attack occurred while they were at work and within the scope of their employment. If you can’t prove this, you may not qualify to receive benefits even if you were assaulted by a third party, customer, or co-worker on the job.
Usually, injured workers are not allowed to receive workers’ comp benefits if they incited violence or provoked the attacker to assault them. However, according to Florida Statutes, workers will qualify for benefits if they are injured or killed by any third party while at work. Again, it’s necessary to show evidence that the incident occurred while the person was engaged in work-related activities.
Also, workers injured by a third party while at work may have the right to file a personal injury claim against the attacker.
Protections Offered by Florida Workers’ Compensation After a Workplace Violence Incident
Unlike a worker who is injured after being struck by something falling from a height or slipping and falling in the office, those who are attacked on the job don’t have guaranteed payments for lost wages and medical expenses.
Along with providing evidence of what happened and where it occurred, your situation must also include one of these elements:
Your Employer Failed to Provide a Safe Work Environment
Employers and employees have the responsibility to ensure a workplace is as safe as possible. Employee responsibility for safety at work includes things like following set procedures and wearing necessary safety gear; employers have even more responsibilities.
Supervisors must avoid scheduling employees to work on their own late at night, take violent threat reports or allegations seriously, and provide training on what an employee should do if they are threatened or find themselves in a volatile situation.
Your Injury Occurred in the Course of Your Employment
Usually, workers’ compensation laws offer coverage for injuries that take place within the normal course of your employment. It doesn’t matter if the person who injured you was a customer, co-worker, criminal, or trespasser; if you were engaged in your typical work duties when the injury occurred, it’s possible to file a workers’ compensation claim.
You Experienced Retaliation Due to the Incident
Employers are not allowed to terminate, demote, or retaliate against an employee for exercising the rights they have. This includes filing a workers’ compensation claim for unsafe conditions.
Florida has a No-Fault Workers’ Compensation System
The workers’ compensation system in Florida is “no-fault.” This means that injured workers can (usually) receive compensation for any type of physical assault that occurs at work, even if they are determined to be at fault. While it is necessary to prove that the incident occurred while you were at work, you don’t have to prove that the employer was at fault.
The exception to this is if you started the incident. In this case, you can’t receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Tips to Prevent Workplace Violence
Most employers would benefit by taking steps to prevent workplace assaults. Cases of workplace violence are disruptive to most business operations. They can also be huge liabilities to any business.
Employers are the ones who are responsible for leading their workers. They need the skills, tools, and abilities to handle any type of situation. There is a possibility of workplace violence if there is pressure from an abusive boss, bullying, arguments between workers, and more. However, all these situations can be prevented by ensuring that all workers know the proper steps to handle conflict on the job. Some of the best ways to prevent on-the-job violence include:
- Create and encourage a healthy work environment where employees feel like they are respected and valued.
- Observe the way employees interact with each other.
- Provide training for conflict resolution for managers and employees.
- Encourage workers to report incidents of harassment and bullying.
Workplace violence and abuse are challenging situations to resolve. This is especially true since there are often more than a few people involved. Working with an experienced attorney who understands these situations can help ensure that you are protected and that you can receive the benefits you are entitled to.
Don’t Wait to Call Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Florida for Assistance with Your Case
If you were injured or a loved one died due to workplace violence, don’t wait to get in touch with our workers’ compensation lawyers Florida at Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. Our legal team can provide you with the representation you need to help ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. The first step is to give us a call to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. From this point, we can work to help you with your case and ensure you get through the often-complicated legal process.
Workplace violence can be scary and change your life in many ways. We understand this and are ready to help you fight for your rights to benefits from the physical and mental anguish you have experienced.