What Do I Do if I Witness Workplace Violence?

No one should have to suffer the dreadful and unnecessary experience of workplace violence. Unfortunately, it has become an increasingly common concern in the American workplace, meaning that it is all the more important to understand how to respond in this situation and how to address these circumstances. 

Workplace violence statistics have illustrated that this is a serious issue and worthy of your concern. In fact, 2 million people become victims of workplace violence every single year, and 7% of the fatalities in the workforce involve some sort of physical damage. A further 60.4 million Americans have been bullied while working. This means you need to know what workplace violence is and how to handle it in the event that you witness workplace violence situations.

When violence happens at your workplace, there might be no way for you to avoid this serious situation. It is also possible that in addition to the trauma associated with witnessing workplace violence, you might also have physical or psychological repercussions associated with ending up in the middle of this unfortunate situation. This makes it even more important to understand your role in witnessing and responding to workplace violence and empowering yourself to understand the rights available to you after the situation.

In some cases, hiring workplace violence lawyers might be necessary to help you get the support you need with your legal claim

Defining Workplace Violence

 Occupational violence refers to any form of violence, even a threat or actual physical abuse that creates a risk to the safety and health of employees. When this happens in the workplace, it is not just the targeted employee who may end up suffering the consequences. Workplace violence can have ripple effects or lead to serious incidents that injure others.

Risk Factors for Workplace Violence

Many American workers are victims of workplace violence every year and many more cases than were reported in the above statistics happen. Certain factors can increase the risk of workplace violence, including working with unstable or hostile people, working alone, providing services and care, and exchanging money with the public are some of the initial factors that can increase your chances of workplace violence.

Location and time of day for work are also risk factors to be considered, and those who frequently work with a disgruntled customer base, such as customer service agents, law enforcement personnel, and public service workers. Knowing what to do if and when workplace violence happens, can significantly increase your chances of safety and allow authorities and necessary personnel to get on the scene sooner rather than later. 
There are different types of workplace violence incidents, including criminal intent, coworker violence, personal relationship violence, and customer or client violence. The strategies associated with preventing and responding to these will vary based on the type of situation. Some lead to a victim hiring workplace violence lawyers based on the situation. 

And most offices and other agencies have developed a workplace violence prevention plan, regarding work site analysis and hazard prevention and control.

The Value of Knowing Warning Signs of Workplace Violence

Knowing the warning signs is an important way to keep these incidents from escalating quickly. Risky situations, such as those in which an employee has mental illness, where they have been terminated from their role, are those that should be handled safely. 

In any workplace violence event, it is very important for parties not involved in the violence to remain calm. Ideally, a risk management plan has already created a strategy for how to move other employees or company property to safe locations. In the event of threats or active shooters, it is essential to activate this safety plan and to contact the authorities as soon as possible. 

If you have witnessed workplace violence, you'll need to share your information with the police and likely with your employer in the event that this has prompted employer reports or employer insurance claims.

Reacting to workplace violence is a very difficult situation when your adrenaline is pumping, but remaining calm and looking for any opportunity to defuse the situation can help you. A workplace violence program should include details about how to evaluate a potentially violent situation, how to let others know about incidents of workplace violence, how to involve police and gather details that can be used to assist in an investigation, and how to handle follow-up activities. If you are the leader of a team and you are witnessing workplace violence, it is your responsibility to protect your team as well. Set an example for your employees, do not escalate the situation by arguing with the person. Confront the situation with compassion and care first, to increase your chances of success. If you have witnessed workplace violence, and if you have sustained injuries due to this violence, you'll need to share this information with an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer.

Should I File a Workers’ Comp Claim?

Being injured on the job is an unfortunate reality for many people who have witnessed or gotten involved in workplace violence. In those circumstances, you need the support of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to assist you with these aspects of your claim. As with many other injuries and illnesses that can occur as a result of your work, you could be eligible to open a worker's compensation claim. 

A worker's compensation claim is your opportunity to get reimbursed for your medical care and to receive payments for other expenses associated with your injuries. It is important that you report this incident to your employer as soon as possible after you get hurt. You might assume because they are already aware of the workplace violence incident that they do not need a separate workers compensation claim. This is not the case. You need to consult with your employer as soon as possible about your intention to open a worker's compensation claim. If your employer tells you that you are unable to open a workers comp claim, you will need to consider filing a personal lawsuit.

Workers comp covers those injuries that are sustained by an employee as a course of performing their job duties. In the event that the employer can be held responsible for failing to prevent workplace violence, the injured employee could be covered by workers’ compensation. For example, perhaps a particular employee had been targeted by another aggressive and angry co-worker. If the employee had reported the situation to their manager and the employer multiple times but the employer had failed to take corrective action and the employee ultimately ends up hurt and an incident of workplace violence perpetrated by this coworker, the injured employee has grounds to open a workers’ comp claim. It then becomes the responsibility of that employee to show that their injuries were sustained in the workplace. If the situation was one of a personal nature that was not connected to the workplace itself, they will not be covered by workers’ comp.

Can I Sue for Workplace Violence?

There are some situations in which you will have additional questions about your rights. If you are a victim of workplace violence, for example, and you are unable to receive workers compensation payments, you may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit against your employer. The primary basis of the civil lawsuit is a claim that your employer is negligent for failing to protect you against the situation. The ability to file a workplace violence lawsuit, however, is limited to those situations in which your employer did not take action based on a threat. You are ineligible to file a civil lawsuit for workplace violence situation if your workers compensation does cover the extent of the expenses associated with your injury.

If you have to sue your employer, this can put you in a very challenging situation once the suit is opened, especially if you’re trying to go back to work after your injury. Although your employer shouldn’t discriminate against you, this does not mean it will be a simple transition back to work. You need someone in your corner to help you understand all the aspects of your legal claim. Workplace violence lawyers are there to answer your questions as soon as possible after the incident happens. 

Before meeting with your workplace violence lawyers for the first time, gather any evidence that can be associated with your claim. This can include reports that you made to your employer prior to the incident happening and your medical records. In the event that you need to pursue a civil lawsuit with the support of workplace violence lawyers, it is very important that you be able to show that your employer is negligent and responsible for the injuries you sustained. It can be devastating to realize that your fears have come true and that someone in the workplace has gotten violent against you. 

Once you have already sustained injuries, it is critical to speak with workplace violence lawyers who have a track record of handling these complex cases so that you can close this difficult chapter in your life. 

You can fill out a simple contact form in under a minute, and receive a free, no-obligation case evaluation from the experts at Morgan & Morgan to get started.