Workplace Brawls And Fights: Are Louisiana Workers Entitled To Workers’ Compensation Benefits For Injuries Resulting From Workplace Fighting?
Unfortunately, the workplace is not always a professional environment. Emotions can run high when tight deadlines are in place, projects are due, and work needs to get done urgently. Personalities and attitudes of peers and superiors can irk fellow coworkers, a bad joke can be taken the wrong way, or someone may simply come into work after waking up on the wrong side of the bed. In addition, customers and other third-parties, such as contractors and family and friends of employees, can cause fighting in the workplace. All of these instances, in extreme cases, may escalate to altercations in the workplace, and may cause physical or mental suffering. Although these are extreme and, perhaps, rare cases, it is important for Louisiana workers to understand their rights to workers’ compensation eligibility when they are injured as a result of workplace fighting.
“Injuries” Under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Law
The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Law covers both physical and mental injuries. Under the Louisiana law, an “injury” is defined to include “only injuries by violence to the physical structure of the body and such disease or infections as naturally result therefrom.” The law establishes that mental injuries caused by mental stress are only covered if “the result of a sudden, unexpected, and extraordinary stress related to the employment….” In both mental and physical injury cases, a worker must prove the covered injury by “clear and convincing evidence.”
In addition to having a physical or mental injury, in order to be covered by Louisiana workers’ compensation laws, a worker’s injury must have arisen out of and have been within the “course and scope of the employee’s employment.” Importantly, although generally fault of the employee or employer is not a factor in whether a worker is covered under the law, a worker may not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in Louisiana if his or her own willful actions led to the injury. In addition, if an injured worker was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and was intoxicated when the injury occurred, generally he or she will not be covered under Louisiana workers’ compensation laws. Finally, and importantly, an employee may not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Louisiana if he or she was injured as a result of a physical altercation that was provoked by the injured worker, or if the injury was a result of “horseplay” in the workplace. These elements are key in the case of a worker who is injured as a result of a workplace altercation.
Workers’ Compensation Help for Injured Louisiana Workers
Just like many things under the law, whether a person is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under Louisiana law when he or she is injured as a result of a workplace fight is not cut-and-dry. If a worker has been injured at work as a result of workplace fighting, they should immediately reach out to an experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyer to learn their rights and entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer knows the ins-and-outs of the system and laws and can help an injured worker get money for their injury for lost wages and medical expenses. If you have been injured at work, contact the experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe today for a free consultation to see if they can help.