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If I Get Into a Fight at Work, Can I Still Get Workers' Comp?

By Jeffrey Yano, Esq. on January 25, 2018 3:00 PM

It's not common, but workplace fights do happen. Tensions build. Voices are raised. Tempers flare. And, in the extreme, shoves, punches, and piledrivers may get thrown about.

Whether it's started by an argumentative customer upset about their caramel macchiato or two colleagues having a heated debate about something-totally-not-worth-fighting-about, injuries can result. So when you're injured in a fight at work, is workers' compensation still a thing?

What Is Workers Compensation?

Workers' compensation is a workplace insurance system for work-related injuries. Injured workers may have medical costs, lose wages while out of work, and sometimes suffer long-term disabilities as a result. That's what workers' compensation is for.

Construction workers, delivery drivers, even dishwashers who die taking out the trash can receive workers' compensation benefits. Police and fire departments often carry extensive (and expensive) workers' compensation policies due to the physically taxing and dangerous nature of their jobs.

Workers' Comp for Workplace Fights

So long as it's a work-related injury, it's potentially covered. But it shouldn't surprise anyone that the law imposes limits on workers' compensation eligibility when fights occur. Under California law, for example, a worker who's the initial aggressor isn't eligible for workers' comp.

Purely personal disputes that overflow into a place of business might not qualify either. The idea behind the entire system is compensating injured workers, after all. The further the facts stray from that legal standard, the more tenuous the case.

Find Out If You're Eligible for Workers' Compensation

Workers' compensation cases can be complicated. Claims are heard through state agencies, and when an employer contests a claim, the going can get tougher. If you're injured following a fight at work, speaking to a workers' comp attorney is a smart move.

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