Should You See a Lawyer If You’re Hurt in a Fight at Work?
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Mon Jul 2019
You’re understandably furious. Through no fault of your own, you were hurt in a fight at work. After x-rays at the emergency room, you learn you’ve broken your arm. Your employer refuses to pay for treatment. What happens now?
More than likely, you’re not just worried about your medical care. Should you apply for state disability benefits? Like many New Jersey residents, you live paycheck to paycheck. How in the world will you pay for your rent and food?
On the one hand, you figure your injuries occurred while you were at work. On the other, you’re not sure what the fight has to do with your employment. Actually, the latter is the reason your boss refuses to take care of you.
Here’s something you need to consider. You and your employer don’t necessarily have the same interests. You absolutely need to see a lawyer to review your rights. There’s a chance you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Under New Jersey law, this doesn’t just mean paying for an authorized doctor and other medical treatment. You could be entitled to up to seventy percent of your weekly wages. Additionally, some injuries qualify for a portion of partial or total permanent disability benefits.
A recent New Jersey case actually dealt with work-related injuries arising out on altercation at work. You may benefit from reading the court’s ruling in the matter.
Was He Hurt in a Fight at Work?
The court in Bhut v. Shapes refers to the encounter between two co-workers as an altercation. Some say fights and altercations are consistent terms. Both suggest angry disputes. Meanwhile, neither necessarily accounts for horseplay, which also comes into play in some work-related accidents.
In the Bhut matter, the petitioner (used to describe injured workers) filed a claim for injuries at work. His employer, Aluminum Shapes (the respondent) denied the petitioner’s accident as an on the job injury.
The incident that caused the injuries actually happened in the area of a locker room. Arvind worked as a technician in a manufacturing plant. When Arvind first entered the locker room, he testified his co-worker had his feet elevated and refused to move them.
To get past the other employee, Arvind says he jumped over the other employee’s feet. He became tangled but wasn’t injured at this point.
Meanwhile, the co-worker provided a different version of the same incident. Both seemed annoyed and ultimately encountered each other in another area away from the location of the manufacturing machines.
The two passed by in a small hallway. Arvind thought his co-worker planned to push a pizza box in his direction and attempted to avoid contact. Meanwhile, the other employee felt attacked when Arvind inadvertently knocked off his hat.
Ultimately, the two employees wound up on the ground. Ultimately, Arvind hurt his shoulder and required medical treatment and time off from work.
In reviewing the claim, the workers’ compensation judge pointed out that compensable accidents require employees to be engaged in fulfilling their work duties. Activities incidental to employment are also considered eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
The court ruled that the incident causing Arvind’s claim had a causal connection to his employment. Therefore, this particular altercation represented a reason the insurance company needed to pay him.
Hurt at work? Discuss the circumstances of your accident with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. At the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafajlo, we cannot charge you for meeting with us. In fact, it’s up to the judge to award attorneys’ fees at the end of your case. Contact us to discuss your injuries and work-related claim.