Assaults at Work II

In a previous post, the issue of Compensation for assaults by a co-worker was addressed. The question was asked if an assault by a co-worker was covered by Worker’s Compensation. The answer was Compensation would cover a claim arising out of an assault that occurred on the job. A second issue that may arise in this case is the right of an employee to directly sue a co-employee for assault.

Generally, employees may sue not their co-worker’s for negligence. If your co-worker’s negligence causes you to sustain injuries on the job, then your exclusive remedy is Compensation benefits. However, if that co-worker punches you, then you can also sue that co-worker for assault.  Unlike Compensation claims, in a suit for assault, the injured employee can obtain an award for pain and suffering.

Sometimes, direct suits against co-workers do not work out. Sometimes, employees may not be able to identify the assailant.  Sometimes, law suits against co-workers result in judgments that can never be collected because the assailant is insolvent.

But the injured worker can still elect to sue the assailant and can have a judgment against that person in the event the assailant ever becomes solvent in the future.

Assaults at Work

“I was injured at my job when a recently hired co-worker lost control of himself and punched me. Do I have a claim against my employer for hiring someone unstable?”

The short answer is yes.  This type of incident would be covered by Worker’s Compensation. Your employer’s Compensation Carrier will cover your medical bills and pay you lost wages while you recover from your injuries. Depending on the type and severity of your injuries, you may be entitled to a settlement at the conclusion of your Compensation case.

 

Reimbursement of Travel and Medical Expense

“I was hurt in an accident on the job last year. Can I get reimbursed for my trips to my doctor’s office?”

Yes, you can be reimbursed for your travel expenses. In order to get reimbursed, you should submit a C-257 form to the compensation carrier and the Compensation Board. (You can download the form directly from the Board’s websit by clicking on this sentence .) If you were our client, we could assist you with this process.

You are entitled to reimbursement for attending your doctor’s appointments and other treatments you receive, such as physical therapy appointments, and traveling for diagnostic testing such as an MRI, but you do not receive reimbursement for traveling to and from your pharmacy or attending hearings at the Workers’ Compensation Board.

If you drive yourself, or a friend or relative drives you to your appointment, your travel expenses are reimbursable at the approved rate per mile.  The Carrier’s will use google maps (or a similar search engine) to determine mileage bewteen your home and your doctor’s office. You can print out the results yourself and submit the mileagle along with the form. The rate you are paid at varies year to year.  This year the rate is 56 cents per mile. By clicking on this sentence you can see the reimbursement rates over several years.

If you travel to a hospital, hospital parking is reimbursed provided you obtain a receipt. If you take public transportation, you can be reimbursed provided you obtain receipts. The MTA now offers digital receipts (even if you are taking access-a-ride) which you can use to get reimbursed.

However, using services such as Uber is not generally allowed as a reimbursable expense. First, you need a doctor’s note stating that your medications prevent you from driving and, medically, public transportation is too far away and would require too many transfers or too much time for your condition. Second, you must prove that you have no access to a motor vehicle.

You can also submit medical expenses (with receipts) that are not paid directly by the carrier. Prescription medications, over the counter medications (which your doctor recommends with a note), and bandages, crutches, canes (which your doctor recommends with a note) should be reimbursed by the carrier.