Assault in the workplace is a nationwide problem, and Minnesota enjoys no exemption from it.
So does Minnesota workers’ compensation cover assault in the workplace? Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Ultimately, the motivation behind the assault governs workers’ compensation coverage
What is Workplace Assault?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines workplace assault, also known as workplace violence, as threats, harassment, intimidation, verbal abuse, threats, violence, and even homicide.
Mental trauma that results only in mental injury does not usually trigger workers’ compensation coverage.
Since Minnesota created its workers’ compensation program to cover tangible physical injuries, you cannot claim workers’ compensation benefits for mental injury from ordinary work stress or discipline.
When Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Workplace Assault?
Minnesota workers’ compensation coverage for workplace assault depends on the provocation or the motivation for the assault:
- If the provocation or the motivation is wholly work-related, workers’ compensation will likely cover the injury.
- If the provocation or the motivation is wholly unrelated to work, except for the fact that the perpetrator and the victim happen to work at the same place, workers’ compensation will likely not cover the injury. This can cause a big problem for the victim since most other types of insurance policies don’t cover intentional assaults.
- If the perpetrator’s assault occurred due to a mixture of reasons, some of which were work-related and some of which were unrelated to work, workers’ compensation will probably cover the injuries.
- If the perpetrator’s motives are unknown, Minnesota workers’ compensation will probably cover the resulting injury. Coverage is not certain, however.
The judicial precedent for this rule arose from a 1941 Minnesota Supreme Court case, Hanson v. Robitshek Schneider Co.
Personal Injury Claims
It’s not only a co-worker who might commit an assault against you. Perhaps an irate customer or supplier assaulted you.
If this happens, you might have a personal injury claim as well as a workers’ compensation claim.
The disadvantage of a personal injury claim is that you must prove that the defendant was at fault.
But a personal injury claim has the benefit of potentially allowing you to collect damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc., in addition to the compensation for medical bills and lost earnings that you might receive.
Be Careful What You Say
You can be reasonably certain that your employer does not want to process a worker’s compensation claim on your behalf.
This is especially true if your claim involves a workplace assault that might generate bad publicity.
They won’t have to do much at all with your claim if your employer determines your assault was unrelated to work.
Don’t say anything that might give your employer ammunition to use against your claim.
As long as your workers’ compensation claim is pending, think of your employer as your adversary, at least regarding your workers’ compensation claim.
Speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer so that you will thoroughly understand your rights.
Contact a Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
We offer decades of experience and have hundreds of successful cases under our belts.
During our 20+ years of practice, our peers in the legal profession have showered us with awards, including Super Lawyers and Minnesota Lawyer Attorneys of the Year.
We serve clients throughout Minnesota.
Josh has been representing injured workers for over 10 years. Josh was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, and attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology. Mr. Stokka alson received his law degree from the Hamline University School of Law. During law school, Josh clerked at a Minnesota law firm specializing in personal injury and workers’ compensation. Prior to practicing in the area of workers’ compensation, Josh clerked for a judge in the 7th Judicial District in Minnesota. This valuable experience gave him insight into how judges think, do their jobs behind the scene, and how to frame a case in order to obtain a favorable result. Now, he focuses 100% of his practice on defending injured workers in Minnesota.