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What happens when a workplace injury was caused by a coworker?

If you work at an oil and gas well site, you probably went through some form of safety training to help reduce the risk of an accident or injury at work. This likely included instructions on how to properly use equipment and protective gear.

Many on-the-job injuries can result from an equipment malfunction, a vehicle accident or a fall from a ladder or roof. And as we've discussed in the past, a worker who is hurt while at work can seek workers' compensation benefits to help with many of the financial challenges that can arise after an injury. But what about injuries that occur at work but that do not occur as a result of a normal course of work?

Last week, a Colorado man suffered serious injuries while he was at work. He had been at a well site and was sleeping when another man started stabbing him in the face and neck. The worker was quickly brought to a nearby hospital and treated for multiple lacerations and stab wounds. It appears that the worker was injured by coworker.

Does this type of injury fall under a "workers' compensation" injury? Granted, the injury was not the direct cause of the work environment but the incident did occur while the worker was at work. If employees are required to provide safety equipment and a safe work environment for their workers, does this include providing adequate security? Could the employer have prevented the incident had there been better security measures in place to prevent the coworker from attacking the man?

Given the nuances of workers' compensation, this type of question should be addressed by someone who understands the Colorado workers' compensation system, such as an attorney. Doing so can determine whether benefits are available for a worker who suffers an injury in a similar situation.

Source: The Tribune, "Bond set at $500,000 for man arrested after allegedly stabbing co-worker 5 times at well site near Greeley," Jason Pohl, Jan. 30, 2014.

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