Today we revisit our discussion of occupational violence. Tragically this topic is top of mind during this time of concentrated frequency of gun violence in our country.
As we explained in part 1, Illinois workers’ compensation normally provides benefits to a victim of a workplace shooting or to their family if the result was fatal.
Workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy against an employer
Workers’ compensation on a basic level provides benefits to employees for work injuries without consideration of who was at fault for the harm in exchange for giving up the right to sue their employers directly for negligent harm. In other words, with rare exception, in a workplace shooting, an injured worker’s exclusive legal remedy is worker’s compensation and not a lawsuit against their employer, even if the employer was negligently responsible.
We previously published a detailed post about the leading Illinois court case on this topic. As we clarified there, even though a shooting (or other targeted violence) was deliberate, for purposes of workers’ compensation it is accidental (and covered) because the victim and their employer did not foresee it, and it arose out of and in the course of employment.
Get legal advice
Workers’ compensation claims based on workplace violence are legally and factually complex as well as emotionally difficult. To protect their claim, anyone shot or otherwise victimized by violence while working (or whose loved one died in this situation) should seek legal advice from a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney as early as possible.
A lawyer can also analyze the circumstances to determine whether any legal remedies outside workers’ compensation apply. For example, might a lawsuit be a proper exception to the exclusive remedy of workers’ compensation if an employer participated in or planned the violence? Could the victim sue a negligent third party such as a security company contracted with the employer and whose negligent services allowed the violence to happen? These questions require careful analysis by an experienced lawyer.