Q Who can I sue if I am the victim of violence at my job?
Any type of workplace violence can be terrifying, but it can be especially so when you are the victim of a crime. The perpetrator can be a co-worker, angry customer, former employer, or a complete stranger committing a crime. Workers in certain professions, such as delivery drivers, health care workers, people handling money, and retail work, are at the greatest risk. If you are the victim of one of these crimes—because that is what workplace violence often is—you want to receive all the damages you are entitled to. Who can you look to for compensation?
Which of These Parties Are Responsible for Compensating You for Your Workplace Violence Injury?
If you are the victim of workplace violence, you may have been beaten, stabbed, or shot and may have suffered life-threatening injuries, or at a minimum experienced emotional trauma from the ordeal. You could have legal remedies against these potentially liable parties:
- Workers’ compensation. If the violence occurred during the course of your job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through your employer to pay your medical bills and lost wages. You do not have to prove your employer’s fault to obtain these benefits. If workers’ comp is available, this could be your only remedy against your employer.
- Civil suit against your employer. If your employer does not have to provide workers’ compensation benefits or fails to do so, you could sue your employer for negligence. While there is no specific law requiring employers to provide security against criminal activities, employers are required to protect workers from undue harm and injury in the workplace, which could give rise to a negligence claim. In addition, you may be able to sue your employer outside of workers’ compensation if he was the perpetrator of the violence and intentionally hurt you.
- Criminal charges. If you were the victim, this is a crime, and you can and should file criminal charges against the perpetrator. He could be required to pay restitution to you for your medical bills and lost wages as part of his criminal sentence.
- Civil lawsuit against the perpetrator. Besides filing criminal charges against the perpetrator of the violence, you may be able to file a civil suit against him. The benefit of this is that you would be entitled to damages for your emotional distress—not compensated under workers’ compensation laws.
- Civil lawsuit against third parties. Many workers must travel for their jobs or travel between worksites. If you are injured at another location, you may have a claim for negligence or negligent security against the business or property owner where the violence occurred.
If you or a loved one was the victim of workplace violence, order our free book, What the Injured Worker Needs to Know, to begin learning about your rights under New Jersey workers’ compensation laws. Then call our office at 877-360-0183 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with workers' compensation attorney Manfred Ricciardelli.