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Workers’ compensation normally covers employee harm from shooting, part 1

Illinoisans and others across the country are reeling from the current intensity and frequency of mass shootings. Many occur in a variety of workplaces, resulting in employee injury and death.

A shooting injury may occur when a worker is clocked in and carrying out work duties on work premises such as a store, warehouse, office, school or theater. But even at outdoor shootings like the recent ones in Chicago at the Highland Park parade and the Shakespeare in the Parks festival, people are also working to make those events happen like police, security personnel, sanitation workers, vendors, medical providers and others.

As the National Security Council writes, “[m]ost every ‘place’ is somebody’s workplace,” even though some industries are more inherently dangerous like health care, social services, those involving money exchange with the public like retail, those open to the public 24 hours, taxi or rideshare driving, hospitality involving alcohol and others.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) describes workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs in the workplace.” Occupational violence is the third-highest cause of workplace fatalities nationally.

Employee shooting injury is usually compensable

When a worker sustains a gunshot wound (or injury from another kind of violence) in the course of and arising out of employment, Illinois law generally considers this to be a workplace accident compensable by workers’ compensation. Benefits usually would include wage replacement and medical coverage and potentially others.

Mental injury from a workplace shooting or similar scenario may also be compensable in workers’ compensation like PTSD, anxiety or depression stemming from the severe shock of the experience.

When an employee dies from workplace violence, their dependent family members are normally eligible for death benefits through the Illinois workers’ compensation program.

In part 2 of this post, we will talk more about occupational violence and its intersection with Illinois workers’ compensation.