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Does workers' comp apply if I'm injured in a workplace assault?

If we really took time to think about all the ways we could be hurt or killed in everyday life we might never get out of bed. That would not be good for the Illinois economy or our own well-being. We have to work. Indeed, as social animals, there's a certain instinct for us to engage with the world somehow.

No, most of us want and need to be active. Still, life has its risks and injuries in the workplace are bound to occur. When they do, workers' compensation insurance is the means by which individuals are supposed to get the treatment they need and to get back on their feet, without any delay due to disagreements about who might be to blame.

When most of us ponder the possibility of getting hurt at work, we might imagine a few common scenarios. In construction, it might be a fall from a scaffolding. In factory work, it might be injuries from repetitive activity. Of course, there are always back injuries.

Injuries due to violence in the work place probably doesn't even register, but there are good reasons why the issue deserves focus. For one thing, injuries resulting from workplace violence should be covered by workers' compensation, but some insurance companies have just stopped offering policies.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are nearly 2 million instances of workplace violence reported in the U.S. every year. Also, of the nearly 4,700 workplace injury deaths reported in 2014, just over 400 of them were attributed to workplace homicides.

Because of that, and because employers have a duty to provide as safe an environment for workers as possible, OSHA has developed certain recommendations to reduce the risk of assaults. These include:

  • Setting zero-tolerance policies on violence: These should apply not just to workers, but also to clients, visitors and anyone else with whom someone from the company might have contact.
  • Assessing risk and instituting violence prevention efforts: It doesn't matter if the facility is government or private, OSHA says a well-researched, well-written and well-implemented prevention program can save lives.
  • Making sure all workers understand the policies and their responsibilities: Consistent and robust communication is crucial.

When workers get hurt, they shouldn't be left with questions about what their rights are. Taking advantage of free initial consultations with a skilled attorney is a good way to find answers.

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