Does Sexual Assault Qualify For Workers Compensation Benefits?
Approximately one out of four women and one out of six men experience sexual assault in their lifetimes. Since most people spend a lot of time at their workplaces, it's inevitable some may experience sexual violence from coworkers or bosses while on the job. One question that comes up in this situation is whether this type of injury qualifies for workers compensation benefits. It depends on a couple of factors.
Only Work-Related Events Qualify
Workers compensation only covers injuries that occurred while you were carrying out your work duties. For instance, a person who is sexually assaulted by a coworker while working in the office after hours would be covered by workers comp because the incident happened in the workplace and when the person was on the clock. Likewise, a person who is accosted while out delivering products to customers may also be covered because the person was working when it happened.
Workers comp eligibility issues typically arise when it's not clear whether the victim was on the clock or how the incident is related to the workplace. Two employees go out of town to attend a conference for work, for example, and one employee assaults the other while they were sharing a hotel room for the night. Even though they're on a work trip, the assault may not be covered by workers comp if it occurred after the conference events for the day end, since the employees were on their own time (e.g. sleeping).
Likewise, if the victim was on a break or attending to matters not related to work when the assault happened, the insurance provider may deny the claim because the employee was not actively working when he or she was attacked.
It can be difficult parsing eligibility for benefits for this type of incident. Therefore, it's best to consult with an attorney for assistance with figuring out whether your case qualifies.
Other Legal Challenges You May Face
Besides proving the incident was related to your employment, another issue you may run into that can affect your eligibility for workers compensation benefits is whether you'll be filing for benefits based on mental or physical injuries.
It's typically easier to win compensation for physical injuries because they're generally simpler to prove. Most physical injuries can be seen and/or objectively measured using a variety of medical equipment and instruments. Therefore, if the sexual assault resulted in broken bones, bruises, and other physical issues, you may have an easier time or winning workers comp benefits for them.
It's more difficult to win compensation for psychiatric injuries, on the other hand, because it's harder to obtain objective verification of them. Mental health issues rarely manifest physically, so proof of your mental injuries would be based on assessments from psychiatric professionals. Not only would these mental health professionals have to show you are suffering from a psychiatric problem but that the issue stems from the sexual assault and is severe enough to require treatment.
If your case involves mental health issues, it's important to obtain psychiatric help as soon as possible and keep detailed records of your diagnoses and treatments. This information will be vital to proving your claim and winning compensation for the incident.
While there are many benefits to filing a workers compensation claim for a sexual assault that occurs in the workplace, this may not be the best option for this type of case. That's because workers comp typically doesn't pay for pain and suffering, which means you won't receive any money for the pain, humiliation, and similar damages you suffer as a result of the event. Talk to an attorney about whether pursuing workers comp benefits or filing a personal injury lawsuit would be the best option for you.