Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim After a Workplace Assault

July 9, 2024
Stern & Cohen
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Workplace safety is paramount, yet incidents like workplace assaults can happen unexpectedly, leaving employees physically and emotionally shaken. If you’ve been a victim of a workplace assault, knowing how to navigate the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim is crucial. This guide aims to provide you with a clear understanding of the steps involved in filing a claim and what to expect along the way.

Understanding Workplace Assault  

Workers’ compensation is insurance designed to provide medical benefits and wage replacement to employees who experience a work-related injury or illness. Though workers’ compensation commonly covers non-intentional incidents like falls, automobile accidents, and equipment malfunctions, it is also an avenue to provide compensation for intentional acts ­– including physical and psychological injuries resulting from workplace violence.

Workplace violence refers to any kind of physical violence, assault, harassment or intimidation that disrupts the workplace. Common types of workplace violence that may be covered by workers’ compensation benefits include:

  • Criminal Intent: In cases of a criminal intent, the offender usually has no relationship to the employer or its employees, and their primary motive is committing a crime. Criminal intent incidents most commonly result in physical injuries.
  • Client-on-Worker: Client-on-worker violence occurs when a client, patient, or customer, who has a relationship to the employer or business, becomes violent when receiving services.
  • Worker-on-Worker: Worker-on-worker violence involves two employees, and most commonly manifests as verbal and emotional abuse, but can become physical. Worker-on-worker violence can include threats and offensive or humiliating speech.

To be eligible for benefits, the incident must be directly related to your employment. Injuries sustained during a personal dispute or occurring as a result of your provocation may not be covered. However, if you are a victim of a workplace assault that is related to your employment and are injured as a result, you are likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Immediate Steps After an Assault

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health and safety should be the first priority. If you have been physically injured in a workplace assault, seek medical attention immediately. This not only ensures that you receive proper care but also documents your injuries, which is crucial for your workers’ compensation claim.
  2. Report the Incident: Notify your supervisor, manager, or HR department about the assault as soon as possible. Many workplaces have specific protocols for reporting workplace incidents, so make sure to follow these guidelines. Reporting the assault promptly establishes a record of the incident and may also prompt the employer to take steps to improve workplace safety.
  3. Keep a Record: Keep detailed records of the assault, including any medical reports and correspondence with your employer regarding the incident. These documents will be important when filing your workers’ compensation claim.

Filing Your Claim

  1. Notify Your Employer: In Pennsylvania, you are required to notify your employer of your workplace injury within 21 days from the date of onset. This notification should be in writing and include details of the assault, such as the date, time, and location, as well as the injuries sustained. It is the employer’s responsibility, then, to report the injuries to their insurer and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
  2. Complete the Claim Form: Your employer will provide you with the necessary claim forms to complete. These forms typically require information about the assault, your injuries, and any medical treatment you have received thus far. Be thorough and accurate when filling out these forms, as any discrepancies could delay the processing of your claim.
  3. Follow Up: After submitting your claim, follow up with your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier to ensure that your claim is being processed. Stay informed about the status of your claim and any additional information or documentation that may be required.

What to Expect After Filing Your Claim

After filing your claim, you will likely be required to undergo a medical evaluation by a doctor chosen by your employer or their insurance carrier. In Pennsylvania, injured workers must see a panel physician, or an employer-approved doctor, within 90 days of the report of a workplace injury. This evaluation helps to determine the extent of your injuries and the appropriate course of treatment.

Once all necessary information has been gathered, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier will decide on your claim. If your claim is approved, you will begin receiving benefits, which may include coverage for medical expenses and compensation for lost wages.

If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision, which involves presenting additional evidence or arguing why your claim should be approved. Consider seeking legal assistance from a workers’ compensation attorney at Stern & Cohen to navigate this process effectively.

Navigating Your Claim with Stern & Cohen

Workplace violence is an unfortunately prevalent issue that plagues wide range of industries. Obtaining coverage for injuries related to a workplace assault isn’t always straightforward. The skilled attorneys at Stern & Cohen can help you navigate your claim and get the benefits you deserve.