Does Workers Compensation Cover Employee Fights?
As much as employers try to make their businesses a place for growth and support, warring personalities are always apt to clash. Unfortunately, workplace arguments can sometimes dissolve into physical fights, which may lead to injuries. In these cases, it is important to know the limits of the employer’s workers compensation coverage, as there are certain exclusions when it comes to workplace violence.
Who Started the Fight?
In general, workers compensation should provide benefits to any employee that is injured on the clock or on the business’ property. However, if an employee is caught initiating or provoking a fight, or committing an illegal act, they could be excluded from these benefits.
If an employee is reported as throwing the first punch or deliberately picking a fight with another employee—or even a customer—they could have a workers compensation claim denied. This would leave the employee to pay for their own medical bills out of pocket for any resulting injuries. If an employee did not deliberately fight or injure another person but was injured as a result of a workplace scuffle, they may still be entitled to benefits from workers compensation.
Other Circumstances that May Lead to a Denied Claim
If an employee is found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the workplace injury, even without a workplace fight, a claim for workers compensation may be denied.
A workers compensation claim may also be denied if an employee does not seek medical attention or notify their employer immediately after an accident. Waiting too long can lead to an insurer or employer believing that the injury was not severe enough for compensation. Time limits to notify your employer or file a claim vary, but you should generally do it as soon as possible and within a 30 day period after the incident.
If there is not enough evidence when it comes to the accident, such as witnesses, you may have a difficult time getting a claim approved. Employees should also remain consistent when retelling the incident to an employer, their insurer and medical provider. Any inconsistencies within stories of the accident can lead to a denied claim, especially when it comes to a workplace fight. In some cases, police intervention may be necessary to determine fault and deescalate certain situations.
In all workplace fights, those involved should be separated and receive medical attention immediately.