In Maryland, like other states, workers’ compensation covers medical costs and provides other benefits to covered employees who get hurt on the job. However, what if the injury is caused by workplace violence? Are employees who get injured in that way still eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits?
Below, Goldberg Finnegan discusses workplace violence, including what it is and when workers’ compensation benefits may apply in Maryland.
What is Workplace Violence?
Workplace violence is often thought of as a physical attack on one’s person, such as a sexual assault, physical attack or homicide. However, workplace violence may begin as acts of intimidation, verbal threats or harassment and escalate into an act of physical violence. Incidents may involve co-workers or other non-employed third parties, such as a customer, visitor or other client. Sometimes, it could even be an employer.
According to OSHA, there is an alarming trend of increased violence in the workplace. In fact, it is now the third-leading cause of fatal work injuries in the United States.
Employers are required by law to protect their employees by taking reasonable steps to create a secure work environment. Many employers are proactive in trying to keep their workers safe. However, other employers may fail to take reasonable measures to help create a safer workplace or ignore when problems, such as harassment, arise.
Does Workers’ Comp Cover Injuries Caused by Workplace Violence?
As with any injury, eligibility for a work injury is determined on a case-by-case basis. However, if an employee is injured in an act of workplace violence in Maryland, it may surprise you to learn that workers’ compensation will likely still apply.
According to the state’s workers’ compensation act, an employee’s injuries are covered by workers’ compensation if the injury was accidental, unintentional, and unexpected, and:
- Arose out of, and during the course of, a covered individual’s employment
- Was an act of willful harm or negligence that targeted a specific employee
- Led to an occupational condition, disease or infection arising out of, or due to employment
It is important to note that if the injured employee instigated or provoked an attack, he or she will not be eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits in Maryland.
New Law That May Benefit Victims of Workplace Violence
On October 1, 2021, House Bill 289 went into effect. This bill may help employers protect their employees from workplace violence. The law specifically permits employers to submit a peace order on behalf of his or her workers. In Maryland, a peace order is a court-ordered requirement for the specified person to stay away from, or refrain from contacting, the at-risk victim.
Workers Most at Risk for Workplace Violence
While an act of violence could happen in any type of work environment, research has shown that there are certain factors that increase the risk of this happening. People who often work alone or during late-night shifts in areas where there is a high crime rate may be at higher risk, including:
- Health care professionals
- Taxi or rideshare drivers
- Delivery drivers
- Public service or utility workers
- Law enforcement personnel
- Customer service representatives
- Gas station workers
- Others who exchange money
Injured by Workplace Violence? Call Our Trusted Law Firm Today
Many employees may be unsure which laws may apply after an injury caused by workplace violence. State laws are often confusing and hard to understand, but you can call one of our experienced workers’ comp attorneys in Silver Spring to learn more. We are ready to help you find out what laws may apply in your situation. Contact Goldberg Finnegan to get answers to your legal questions. There is no cost or obligation to find out if you have a claim. If we represent you, there is nothing for you to pay us up front or while we work you claim. We only get paid our fees if we recover compensation for you.