The purpose of a Workers’ Compensation claim is to ensure that employees who become injured on the job can be reimbursed for those injuries, without having to resort to the courts. The way the system works is that the injured employee receives compensation for the work-related injuries and agrees not to file a legal action against the employer. The employee is not required to prove negligence or liability in order to be compensated for his injuries; making it essentially a no-fault system. A novel question is whether you can make a workers comp claim if you were assaulted in the workplace. Let our Joplin Workers Comp lawyer explain how it works.
What is workers compensation?
In Missouri, most employers are required to carry workers comp insurance so that, if an employee suffers a work-related injury, they will be compensated for those injuries through those insurance benefits. Not all injuries are covered by workers comp. That means that any injury that occurs while an employee is working is not necessarily eligible for workers comp benefits. There are various factors to consider, so discuss your potential claim with our Joplin Workers Comp lawyer to see if you are eligible.
Eligibility for workers comp benefits
An employee must be working within the authority of their employer and performing activities that are work-related in order to be eligible for workers comp. Otherwise, you are not entitled to these benefits. For example, if you are making deliveries on behalf of your employer and you are injured in a car accident, you will likely be covered even though you are not on the premises at the time. However, if you are on your lunch break and you are in an accident on your way back to work, that injury will not be covered.
Can you make a claim for being assaulted at work?
There is no easy answer to this question. If you are assaulted at work and that assault is work-related, then you may be eligible for workers comp benefits. However, you must prove that the reason you were assaulted was related to the fact that you were working under the scope of your duties as an employee. That means you must be able to show that there was no personal motive for the assault.
For example, if your ex-boyfriend comes to your job and assaults you, that will not be covered by workers comp. However, if the person who assaults you at work did not have a relationship with you, you may be covered. So, if a customer assaults you because they are unhappy with some aspect of the business you work for, you will likely be protected by workers comp insurance.
Coverage of an assault claim is an exception to the “no-fault” system
Generally speaking, workers comp is considered a no-fault system which means if you and your injury are covered, you do not have to prove who was at fault for your injury. However, if you are assaulted, it is necessary to prove that you are not in any way responsible for being assault. In other words, if you did something to provoke the assault, you may not be eligible for workers comp benefits. If you have questions about how this works, contact our Joplin Workers Comp lawyer.
Workers’ Compensation is the exclusive remedy available
Before this system was put into place, an employee’s only remedy was to file a lawsuit, which required proof of damages. Now, nearly all employees are automatically entitled to workers comp benefits. Likewise, the employer is automatically protected from lawsuits based on the employee’s injury. Basically, workers comp benefits are meant to be a substitute for filing a lawsuit against the employer. In other words, if you accept workers’ compensation benefits, you waive your right to file a lawsuit.
Potential third-party claims
Despite the fact that workers comp law prevents an employee from filing a lawsuit against the employer for work-related injuries, it does not prevent legal claims against a third-party, when that person’s negligence contributed to the employee’s injuries. For instance, if you are a delivery truck driver and you are injured in an auto accident caused by someone else, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. You can do this in addition to receiving your Workers’ Comp benefits. In these cases, you should also seek the advice of our Joplin Workers Comp lawyer.
If you have questions regarding workers comp matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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