What happens if you’re attacked on the job? Can you get workers’ compensation benefits? The answer to this question depends on a number of different facts. The aggressor may be someone that the employee is exposed to by reason of the employment: Either a co-worker or a complete stranger. If the employee is attacked by such a person while on the job, then the injuries can be compensated for under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
If the injured employee is the aggressor, however, then his claim would probably be denied. This should not be taken to mean that he can’t defend himself if another co-employee or member of the general public attacks him.
There is another issue: If the initial aggressor or the subsequent aggressor withdraws from the assault, but the employee pursues after the person after the initial altercation, then benefits would not be awarded.
The moral of the story is that if you’re attacked on the job, you can defend yourself, but don’t run after the attacker and become an aggressor yourself.
Recently, in a Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission opinion, this exact issue arose. In Charles Hoover v. Pace Bus, the Commission decided that the injury sustained by the employee when she was attacked could be denied. Although the employee was attacked first, she became a second aggressor, as she left her bus to chase after the person that had attacked her.
There is an old saying: “Do the right thing because it is right.” If you are attacked while on the job, your possible workers’ comp case has the best chance if you do the right thing. The moral of the story is don’t become the aggressor by chasing after your initial attacker. Then, you will keep your hopes alive for winning your possible workers’ compensation claim to help pay for your medical care and lost time from work that resulted from the attack. Protect yourself, but be smart and avoid adding to the problem, and your workers’ comp case will have a chance to win.