What Legal Options Do I Have After Workplace Assault?
After workplace assault occurs, determining how to best respond to the situation can be difficult. In fact, not much can be done in some situations. And every state is different in how workplace assault is handled legally.
What Options Do I Have After Workplace Assault?
In Pennsylvania, your best option for a legal response to assault by a fellow employee is to file for workers’ compensation or allege the claim of employment discrimination. In rare cases, you may have a situation that also qualifies for a third-party lawsuit against your employer or a criminal complaint against your coworker.
Possible Legal Options for an Injured Worker
- Workers’ compensation claim
- Employment discrimination claim
- Third-party lawsuit against employer
- Criminal complaint
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim for an Assault Injury
Whether bruised or severely injured, you must file a first report of injury with your employer. Details are crucial to this report. The paperwork requires date, time, cause, incident overview, and injury details. In the event of hospitalization, you can fill out the documents once your condition has stabilized.
The purpose of worker’s compensation laws is to provide injured workers with compensation benefits when they’re hurt on the job. When worker’s compensation is claimed, related expenses will be paid to you during treatment and recovery, covering therapy, medical, prescriptions, and other out-of-pocket costs including about two-thirds of your lost wages.
Check with your employer for a list of company-approved doctors. In most cases, these doctors will be paid by the insurance company. But if you believe that your injury isn’t receiving the appropriate care, request a second opinion from another company-approved physician. Once you have healed, the doctor will give you paperwork for returning to work with clearances for what you can and cannot do.
File an Employment Discrimination Claim
Is it possible that you’ve noticed that due to your race or disability that you’ve been treated differently by your company? Did your coworker have it out for you before he or she assaulted you? Have you made complaints about unfair treatment and unsafe work conditions?
Sometimes workplace assault is rooted in a deeper problem than what we see on surface level. Discrimination ruins lives. For employees, discrimination can stall or end livelihoods.
Start with what you know and collect evidence of the discrimination you have faced. Employment law lays out protections for legally protected classes, and it’s vital to know what protections are available to you. Report your complaint to the Human Resources, both in person and in writing.
To file a lawsuit for employment discrimination prompted by workplace assault, you must show that you’ve taken all internal options available to you to pursue resolution. Employees who skip the internal complaint process and try to rush to a lawsuit will be disappointed. The best preparation for legal action is to exhaust every available solution to yourself within your company before filing a lawsuit.
Once you have done everything you can within the company to pursue your rights, consult a lawyer about your legal options.
File a Third-Party Lawsuit against your Employer
Under certain conditions, an employee may be able to file a third-party lawsuit against their employer due to the workplace assault. Employers are obligated to ensure employees have a safe workplace and aren’t threatened by harm while at work. This means that employers should be aware of which employees have histories of violence, whether through background checks or disciplining workers appropriately.
When you know that your employer was aware of the threat to you and other employees but took no steps to protect the workplace from that violent employee, your employer could be liable for when you ended up injured. This is a difficult case to win because you must prove that your employer disregarded the responsibility of workplace safety.
While not every situation can be categorized as negligence, some circumstances of workplace assault may fit the parameters. If you believe you have a third-party lawsuit against your employer, consult a lawyer immediately.
File a Criminal Complaint against a Coworker for Workplace Assault
Any time you deal with an assault, even in the workplace, you should contact the police and make a report of the situation. Witnesses can be helpful to validate your narrative of the situation, but you need to specifically say that you did not provoke the attack. A verbal disagreement or exchange is not enough to be considered provocation for assault. However, if you threatened your attacker with injury or death, your attacker will argue that they struck in self-defense.
Request a copy of the police report so that you have evidence for a possible third-party lawsuit against your employer. Also, explore the options available to you through the state for victim compensation funds to help pay for medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the workplace assault.
Depending on how your complaint is handled, a judge might determine that due to the workplace assault you are eligible to receive restitution. Every situation is different. Therefore, it may be best to speak with a lawyer to find out what options are available to you.
Assault v. Battery: The Definitions and Consequences
State to state, the definition and examples of assault and battery differ. Assault and battery are different, and therefore, the law also handles them distinctly. Knowing which situation best applies to you can help determine how to respond.
Assault: The Definition and Response
While assault can be deemed as anything from a threat to a severe injury, the more concrete understanding of assault is an intentional act that can be interpreted as a threat of imminent harm. The fear of being harmed as a reasonable response to a threatening situation can be enough to be considered assault.
- Louisa clicked her nails together in Amy’s face, saying, “I’m going to claw out your eyes.”
- Tyler slammed his fist against the wall by Jack’s head. Jack was sure that Tyler was going to hit him next.
- Kim’s boss grabbed her in the hallway and said, “If you don’t get your work in by tomorrow morning, your life is going to be over.”
In most of the above examples, no physical contact occurred. To have a complaint of assault, the victim does not need to have been touched. The threat of injury or harm is enough to complain or file a report. When physical harm does occur, assault blends into battery.
Battery: Definition and Response
While assault usually refers to all actions and comments leading up to physical contact, battery lays claim to any physical contact that is intentional and harmful to someone else. Battery requires contact between the assaulter and the victim. It can be direct and immediate, indirect and immediate, or indirect and remote.
- Louisa swipes at Amy’s face with her fingernails, leaving long red marks across her face.
- Tyler slams his fist into the wall next to Jack’s head, and the plaster fractures, smacking Jack in the back of the neck and causing lacerations.
- Kim’s boss set a booby trap in her office to teach her lesson, and she ended up in the hospital.
However, physical harm does not need to always occur for battery to be a reasonable complaint under the law. The action can simply be inoffensive or inappropriate, but it must be intentional. Sometimes assault and battery occur from the same incident, but one or the other can occur separately.
File a Lawsuit for Assault and Battery
A number of factors must be present for a lawsuit with the best chance of a favorable outcome and recovered damages. A lawyer can help you determine if your situation qualifies as a successful case for lawsuit. After all, the person you file against will have their own list of defenses to argue whether alleging you consented to the possibility of injury or counter-accusing you of threatening action.
If you believe that you may have a case for assault or battery, consult with a lawyer to determine whether or not you have a case and what your next steps should be.
How to Press Charges and Prepare for a Lawsuit
A crucial part of pursuing legal action is developing a paper trail, revealing that you’ve been facing and complaining about inappropriate actions. When your coworker or supervisor takes a negative employment action against you in some way, take note and report it to Human Resources. A report or complaint in writing is a clue that the harassment is an ongoing problem.
Therefore, if you face workplace assault because nothing has been done to resolve the problem, you have a paper trail to prove that this problem was a long time in coming. When an assault occurs, you need to move quickly.
1. Gather your details of the assault and the witnesses.
If the assault occurred on work premises and your coworkers watched what happened, speak with them and ask them to write down their account of the situation. Also, write down your own report, including as much relevant information as possible. Memory will fade, and it’s vital to have the correct information.
2. Visit the local Police Station to file an Assault Report.
Bring your account of the assault with you to the police station to report the incident. Also, if you are unable to visit the police station due to injury or fear of more harm, you can call the police station and explain the situation. A policeman will be sent to you to help you file a report.
3. Provide the Police with specific information.
The police will need to know the details of the assault, including the below information. These details will help them to know the setting of the assault and how to reach you and your assailant.
- Name and Address of you and your assailant
- Location of the assault
- Date and time of the assault
- Details of how the assault occurred
4. Retrieve a copy of the police report
After the police have gathered all relevant information for your assault, they will issue a report. You will want to have a copy for your own files and for proof if you decide to take legal action.
5. Keep track of your injuries and other information related to the assault.
You may need to provide additional information. Stay available and wait for more information on your case from the police. You will also want to be prepared for more questions from the police as the assault report is analyzed for possible legal action against the assailant.
6. Request a restraining order.
If you are concerned that your assailant might try to harm you again, you may want to consider seeking a restraining order. Of course, this is a legal document that specifies how close your assailant can be to you. To violate the restraining order means that the assailant could be arrested immediately.
7. Speak with a lawyer about filing a lawsuit.
As you know, if the assault occurred in the workplace and you believe that your employer was negligent in hiring, you may have a case against your employer. Due to the variables of every situation, the only way to know whether or not you have a case is to contact a lawyer in your state. Law differs state to state.
If you are employed in Pennsylvania and you’ve experienced assault from a coworker, you may have a case against your employer if the situation meets certain qualifying factors. Consult with a lawyer today to find out what your legal options may be.