Violence in the workplace is becoming increasingly common not only in California, but around the United States. These incidents involve actual physical violence or the threat of such violence. It could also involve employees being exposed to the risk of violence. In order to be considered workplace violence, an act of violence does not have to be perpetrated by an employee of the company, but could be committed by anybody at a worksite. The main issue in such cases is where the violence occurs and not who committed the act of violence.
While typical workplace safety issues have involved unsafe practices or exposure to hazardous chemicals, lately, employees have become victims of violent attacks in the workplace. Many of these assaults have resulted in deaths and major injuries that have necessitated ongoing medical treatment, lifelong disabilities and loss of productivity. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of violence in the workplace, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced Los Angeles work injury lawyer who can help you seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.
Cal/OSHA Guidance for Workplace Safety
California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has issued guidelines to improve workplace safety. The department states that employers should take preventive measures based on a thorough understanding of the risk factors associated with various types of workplace violence. Cal/OSHA emphasizes that workplace violence has become a serious safety issue for California employees and that their Guidelines for Workplace Security, while designed to provide information and guidance to employers and employees, can only go so far.
According to Cal/OSHA's statistics, California now joins a growing list of states, and the District of Columbia, in which assault and violent acts represents the leading cause of death in the workplace. Higher-risk occupations where employees become victims of violence include taxi or rideshare (Uber/Lyft) drivers, liquor store or convenience store workers, gas station attendants, and workers in jewelry stores, small hotels, and bars and restaurants.
Preventing Violence at Work
One of the first steps employers must take to prevent workplace violence to understand and evaluate the risks involved. Typically, some workplaces are riskier than others. For example, any places of work where money transactions are involved such as a bank or convenience store are at risk. Employees who work alone at night and during the early morning hours also tend to be targets as are those who work in a retail outlet where there are high-value items such as jewelry or costly luxury watches. In addition, those performing public safety operations such as police officers and security guards are also at risk of becoming victims of violence.
It is crucial that employers institute procedures for identifying hazards and training employees in how to recognize these dangers and risks. For example, employees who work late at night should be trained in how to be safe and how to report crimes when they do occur. These employees should also be informed as to how they can seek medical care when needed. Employers should also take steps to make sure employees who are fired or laid off do not have access to company facilities. There is no room for negligence or oversight in these cases.
Steps to Take After Workplace Violence
If you have been injured as the result of a violent act in the workplace, it is important that you take the following steps to protect your rights:
- Seek immediate medical attention after the incident. Inform your medical provider or emergency responders that you were the victim of workplace violence.
- File a report with the police. Obtain a copy of the police report for your records.
- Do not assume that your employer is aware of the incident. File a formal report with your employer.
- Contact a work injury lawyer who has experience representing victims of workplace violence.
- File your workers' compensation claim. Your attorney can help you navigate this process.
Learn more about the work injury compensation claim process.
Protecting Your Rights in a Workplace Violence Case
If you have been injured in an incident of workplace violence, you can seek workers' compensation benefits through your employer, which will help pay medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. You may also be able to receive benefits for temporary and permanent disabilities, if your injuries prevent you from returning to work, and job displacement benefits to help you with the expense of retraining or acquiring new job skills.
If you have lost a loved one to workplace violence, you may be able to seek death benefits under workers' compensation. In some cases where negligence is a factor, your employer and/or a third party including the perpetrator could be held liable for damages as well.
How a Work Injury Lawyer Can Help
The experienced experienced California work injury lawyers at Greenberg & Ruby Injury Attorneys, APC are committed to helping employees who are injured on the job including those who have become victims of workplace violence. It can be quite a challenge for workers and their families to navigate the complex workers' comp process in California, particularly in cases of workplace violence. We can help analyze all aspects of your case and advice you on how to proceed. Call us or fill out the form on this page for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.