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Workers' compensation may be in line for work-related violence

Many Denver residents might feel relatively safe and secure at their offices or workplaces. Although this is the way workers should be able to feel, the sad reality is that there is always a possibility for violence to erupt.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 2 million people report instances of workplace violence each year. At the same time, many cases could be going unreported if employees are afraid to file a report. This is a real issue in the American workplace.

Whether one employee physically assaults another or an outside party resorts to using a weapon, workers and their employers face a very difficult situation in the wake of a violent outbreak.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration points out that employers are legally required to create and maintain a workplace that is absent of known threats. At the same time, employees have the legal right to file a report if they feel as though their workplace is unsafe without any retaliation from superiors.

Knowing the physical toll that a violent incident can take on a worker, it's natural to wonder what kind of coverage is available. Like any workers' compensation claim, it depends on relevant state law and the details of the incident.

According to Colorado statute, workers are entitled to coverage under their employer's workers' compensation policy for any injury suffered while they are performing work-related duties. Additionally, the law indicates that certain caps on recovery may not apply to victims of crime, which can provide additional support for medical and wage losses.

The reality is that workers' compensation law is incredibly complex, and so too is the process to file claims. Workers must be able to provide evidence that they were injured in the normal course of work, performing tasks as they were supposed to be. Meeting this burden may be a challenge without outside assistance, particularly if employers are eager to limit their liability.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Workplace Violence," accessed July 3, 2014

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