Case Example: Worker’s Compensation for Workplace Assault and Battery

A young worker is beaten and robbed in his employer’s parking lot. Follow his options for injury compensation.

This case discusses a workers’ compensation claim for an employee who was the victim of assault and battery in his employer’s parking lot.

This case study is for educational purposes only. It is based on actual events, although names have been changed to protect those involved. Any resemblance to real persons or entities is purely coincidental.

We’ll cover how our victim was injured, his eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, and the final resolution to the injured worker’s case.

Our study finishes up with a list of important points about workers’ compensation claims.

Assaulted on Company Property

John was working his way through school, stocking shelves at the local big-box grocery store. He had only been on the job a month. He typically worked the late shift from 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. and attended classes four days each week.

After work, John exited from the back of the store near the loading docks into a very dark parking lot and walked about 50 yards to his vehicle. The employees had a designated parking lot behind the store. The lighted parking lot in front of the store was reserved for customers.

On the evening in question, John bragged to his co-workers that he sold a vintage video game system that day and had $375 in cash in his backpack. As John clocked out at 3:05 a.m., he had no idea that anyone was following him.

While in the dark parking lot, he was brutally attacked and robbed.

John received a broken right arm, bruised ribs, scrapes and bruises, and had to get 15 stitches in the back of his head where a bottle had struck him. He suffered from a mild concussion.

The police found the bloodied bottle and determined the bottle came from the store’s recycling bin near the loading dock.

Company Liability for Assault and Injuries

Three days later, two of John’s co-workers were arrested for assault and battery. Police recovered John’s backpack and most of the stolen cash from the suspects.

From a criminal perspective, the two co-workers are liable for assault and battery. However, from a civil liability perspective, the employer also bears some responsibility.

There had been four other after-dark assaults on employees in the same parking lot in the previous year.

Despite the knowledge that there had been multiple assaults, the company failed to take action to make the environment safer for its workers. Reasonable steps by the property owner would include surveillance cameras, better lighting, allowing the employees to park closer, or hiring security guards to patrol the property at night.

Premises liability requires property owners to inspect for hazardous conditions and notify individuals of those hazards or correct them. John had just been hired and had no notice of the prior assaults. His employer was able to inform employees of the assaults and institute measures to increase employee safety, but they failed to do so.

It might be arguable that John brought the assault on himself for bragging about having a large sum of cash.

However, while the company may not have foreseen two of their employees would be capable of violence, the company is liable for allowing a dangerous condition (unsafe parking lot) to occur.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Because this occurred while John was at work, he was eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

The company’s workers’ comp insurance company questioned John’s eligibility for benefits because he had already clocked out before the attack.

Because John never made it to his car and was still on employer property, it was considered a workers’ comp claim.

John was injured badly but not permanently. Because his job required heavy lifting, John was out of work for three months until his arm was fully healed.

Workers’ compensation covered all John’s medical expenses, reimbursed him for mileage to medical appointments, and paid him a weekly wage benefit until he was medically cleared to return to work.

The two men who assaulted John were convicted of aggravated assault and robbery. All but $20 of the stolen money was returned to John.

John was not eligible for his state’s Crime Victim Compensation Fund because workers’ compensation reimbursed his bills and wages.

John had every legal right to file a civil lawsuit against the men who assaulted him, but knowing the men had no money or assets, John decided it wasn’t worth his time. He chose to move on with his life.

Important Points About Workers’ Compensation

  • Workers’ compensation wage benefits are usually about two-thirds of your average weekly wages. However, workers’ comp wage benefits are not taxable income.
  • You may not be eligible for workers’ compensation for injuries sustained outside scheduled work hours or while traveling to and from work.
  • Workers’ compensation does not pay for a workers’ pain and suffering but may cover mental health services in exceptional circumstances, like assault.
  • Workers’ comp laws generally protect employers from lawsuits, but there are circumstances when you can sue your employer for work injuries.

Charles R. Gueli, Esq. is a personal injury attorney with over 20 years of legal experience. He’s admitted to the NY State Bar, and been named a Super Lawyer for the NY Metro area, an exclusive honor awarded to the top five percent of attorneys. Charles has worked extensively in the areas of auto accidents,... Read More >>