Law Office of James M. Hoffmann Articles Physical Assault and Workers’ Compensation

Physical Assault and Workers’ Compensation

By James Hoffmann  Nov. 15, 2018 1:21p

The most common type of workplace injury claims come from accidents. A few typical examples include falling, getting a limb caught in machinery, and lifting too heavy of a load. Still, plenty of damages come about from strange circumstances. One of them is physical assault, which can be carried out by either co-workers or customers. Below, we explain the legality surroundings this case of workplace injury and why you may or may not use workers’ compensation system to resolve it.


Can You Use Workers’ Compensation?

Though almost every workplace injury is eligible for workers’ compensation, physical assault is an area that is a bit more complicated. The following are three crucial factors in helping you determine if you can utilize this system or not.


  • Who Assaults You - Assaults leading to claims generally involve a co-worker or customer. Someone being a third party lessens the likelihood of you using the workers’ compensation system.

  • The Reason They Do It - Intent is another critical factor. The generality is that they must physically engage you due to a work-related issue. Some typical examples include a deeply unhappy customer attacking you or a superior bullying you as a form of punishment.

  • The Extent of Your Damages - A simple scuffle that leads to no severe injuries might not be worth a claim. On the other hand, any fight that leads to medical bills or lost wages definitely will.

Why You Might Not Be Able To

Now that you know what conditions might lead to a workers’ compensation claim, let’s discuss some that will draw you towards a different legal framework.


  • You Initiated the Fight - Though workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system, instances of extreme negligence do take your potential compensation away. One example would be you starting a fight with a co-worker or customer. This behavior will not lead to benefits, as you were clearly at fault in the situation.

  • Not Work Related - Something that frequently happens in the workplace is a third party visiting to settle a personal issue. What usually happens is someone from a worker’s social life knows they can find that employee at work and use that opportunity to confront them. In this situation, your injuries will likely not be not be deemed work related.


Your Best Alternative Options

If, after speaking with an attorney you determine that workers’ compensation is not on the table, you can choose to open a personal injury lawsuit. This decision is not one you should make on your own. Instead, be sure to talk to a lawyer about each option and get a professional opinion on the matter.


One thing to note is that as long as you were not the instigator of your physical altercation, you should be able to attain compensation for it. For this reason, you will not have to deal with your damages on your own. Instead, you can rely on a St. Louis work injury attorney to guide you through one of the two legal frameworks presented above.

Call (314) 361-4300 for a free case evaluation.

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