I’d like to think that we leave fistfights behind us on the playground, preferably sometime around junior high age. But stuff happens ….
What happens if you get hurt getting into a fistfight with a co-worker at work?
First, win or lose, you are going to be at risk of losing your job. Most companies don’t have any patience for that in the workplace, and even if you get hurt, they are not likely to keep you around, and there isn’t much about a worker’s compensation case that will change that in your favor.
So, let’s assume for a minute that you get into a fight and get hurt to the point that you need medical care and/or have to miss work. Does the company have to pay you worker’s compensation benefits?
The key language in the Worker’s Compensation Act is that the company is required to pay benefits for “accidental injuries” that “arise out of and in the course of” your employment. Both of these are problems from the standpoint of getting paid benefits if you end up getting hurt in a fight with co-workers.
The first thing that must happen for your fight to be covered is that it has to start with a work-related issue. You get into an argument about work that spins out of control, etc. If it is a fight that starts because of an argument over sports, politics, women, music, or anything else, you probably won’t be covered.
The other thing is that the injury must be considered “accidental” which means that you have to make a choice – are you going to say that the injury was accidental or intentional? You need to pick – the fancy term for it in the law is “election of remedies,” and there are consequences to the choice you make.
If you say that it was accidental, you may be covered by worker’s comp – but the trade-off for getting worker’s comp benefits is that you can’t sue the guy who you got into the fight with. Why? Because worker’s comp is the exclusive remedy for work-related injuries.
If you say it was intentional, it is no longer an accidental injury, and there is no worker’s comp benefits. That also means that you can sue the pants off the guy that you got into a fight with. The problem with that will always be collecting the judgment because insurance policies won’t cover intentional acts.
The choice is yours ….
If you have a current worker’s compensation issue which you need help on, please feel free to reach out to our office by calling us at 312-263-1080 to discuss your issues and what options you have. There is no obligation to hire our law firm, and there is no charge for the call.
I hope this has been helpful, and if you know anyone who can benefit from this kind of information, please feel free to share this.
We are here to help truck drivers after an on-the-job accident. Knowledge is power, and the first step in protecting your rights is to know what they are.