Injured in an Assault at Work: Your Next Steps
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Injured in an Assault at Work? Your Next Steps

Assaults against employees unfortunately are all too common in the workplace. If you were assaulted, you probably need both medical help and help getting back to work. The Minnesota workers’ compensation system can assist with both.

Workers’ compensation provides benefits to employees who are injured in some types of assaults. There is a difference between assaults motivated by personal reasons and assaults motivated by the employee’s employment status or conduct as an employee. The difference in motivation can affect whether the employee receives workers’ compensation benefits.

For example, an assailant might attack an employee because the employee was involved in a car accident on the way to work. The assault happens at work only because the employee goes there after the car accident. If the employee had gone somewhere else, the assault could have happened there. In this situation, the employee likely could not receive workers’ compensation. (Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 16.)

In contrast, an assailant could attack an employee because the assailant had a grudge against the company or because the employee refused to serve the assailant. These attacks are motivated by the employee’s employment status and conduct as an employee, respectively. As a result, the employee likely could receive workers’ compensation. (Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 16.) If the assailant’s motivation was unclear or unknown, then the employee could receive workers’ comp as well. (See Foley v. Honeywell, Inc., 488 N.W.2d 268, 273 (Minn.  1992).)

Many assaults at work occur between coworkers or between an employee and a customer. Depending on the type and severity of the attack and injuries, an injured employee may have personal injury claims in addition to workers’ compensation claims. Unlike workers’ compensation claims, personal injury claims usually require filing a lawsuit and potentially going to trial. You need a different kind of lawyer and the lawsuit can be complicated. However, you could recover significant damages beyond medical costs and lost wages.

If you are an employee injured an assault at work, take care in what you say to your employer. Your employer has an interest in limiting damage to its business after an attack on the premises. It does not want negative press coverage, news spreading to competitors, lawsuits, or employees who cause trouble. All this means that your employer may not act in your best interest when investigating the assault or talking to police. You should speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer and potentially a personal injury lawyer to determine your rights.

Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.