Accidents And Intentional Acts In The Workplace
Injuries are an unfortunate reality in the workplace. Most of the time these injuries are the result of workplace accidents. Sometimes, however, an injury is caused by the intentional act of a coworker. Even if the injury suffered is the same, in the eyes of the law it matters greatly whether the cause is an accident or an intentional act. This is because accidents like vehicle collisions, slip and falls, chemical burns, and incidents involving lifting or moving objects will usually fall within the scope of California’s workers’ compensation laws. Intentional acts, such as physical or verbal abuse, on the other hand, are more likely dealt with by the state’s criminal justice or intentional tort laws. To discuss injuries suffered in the workplace and determine how to proceed with a claim to recover the compensation you need and deserve, contact an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney.
Workplace Accidents Are The Domain Of California’s Workers’ Compensation System
In California, almost all businesses with employees are required by law to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. This type of insurance can be purchased privately or through the state. Its purpose is to provide employees covered by the plan with medical, wage, and other benefits arising from injuries sustained in the workplace. Workers’ compensation insurance protects both employers and employees by ensuring that employers are not bankrupted by having to cover the potentially many costs arising from workplace injuries, and employees being left in financial dire straits by medical expenses and lost wages due to missed work. Physical injuries like broken bones, burns, and slipped discs are covered. So too are illnesses and diseases, as long as the work was the actual cause of the illness or disease. Psychological injuries may be covered as well, but the threshold of proof is higher than with physical injuries.
Injuries Suffered As The Result Of The Intentional Acts Of A Coworker Are Generally Not Covered by California’s Workers’ Compensation System
Employers have a duty to keep business premises safe for employees. This duty extends to everything from floors to task-related procedures to the condition of vehicles used in the course of conducting business on the behalf of the employer. When this duty is breached, and an injury results, responsibility rests with the employer. This is the case, for example, if an employee slips and falls on a wet floor, pulls his or her back lifting or moving a heavy crate without adequate protective gear or training, or suffers a broken bone while operating inadequately maintained company equipment. The conduct of coworkers, however, is another matter. While employers are required to inform employees of what is and isn’t appropriate conduct at the workplace, an employer is generally not liable for the intentional bad acts of one employee against another. The duty governing conduct not related to the performance of work-related tasks is the same one that exists outside the workplace. Whether on or off the job, it is not legal to assault someone. As such, engaging in this prohibited behavior will result in liability for any injuries caused. Absent an employer’s knowledge of the violent or dangerous propensities on an employee, it is the offending employee, rather than the employer, that will be held responsible for injuries caused by an intentional act.
To discuss injuries suffered in the workplace and determine how to proceed with a claim to recover the compensation you need and deserve, contact an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney.