I often receive calls about injured workers who were involved in a fight at work. My first question is usually, “Who started it, and why?” This is important to determine because if an injury results from a dispute that arose from the injured worker’s duties, how the work was performed, or in self-defense, it might be considered within the course and scope of employment and be covered.
These claims fall under Section 406.032(1)(B), the “Willful Attempt to Injure Another of Self.” This area of law is determined by an Administrative Judge as a question of fact that he or she must decide when the insurance carrier raises an affirmative defense.
For example, verbal disputes occurring outside of the workplace between employees who do not get along, which later results in a brawl while at work, is not categorized as a work-related incident for either party. This is because whether employees like each other or do not get along is not related to the way the work is performed.
By contrast, injuries resulting from a confrontation between an employee and their foreman because the foreman belittles the employee on how the employee is performing the job, is categorized as work-related. In this example, there is no personal animosity and the injury arose from a disagreement related to the manner in which the injured worker was performing their duties. This would be deemed compensable, and the injuries would be covered. APD 962472
The bottom line is, do not bring personal drama into the workplace, even if you have an issue with a co-worker or management. In most circumstances, an altercation at work that results in a physical dispute arising from the manner in which you perform your job duties or in reasonable self-defense would be covered.
If you believe you were protecting yourself and had no part in starting a fight at work, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation coverage for your injuries. Be safe, but just in case, give us a call so we can review the specific facts to your situation and explain what your options are.