Under California Penal Code, assault is defined as an attempt to threaten to injure someone. Examples of assault in the workplace can be when a coworker screams and threatens to throw a huge item on you while making you scared that you will be hurt even if the item has not been thrown at you. Being assaulted by a coworker is not only a ground for criminal liability to arise, you can also claim compensation under a civil lawsuit.
What Should I do If I was Assaulted by a Coworker?
There are a few options one can take if they were assaulted by a coworker including:
- File a complaint to the police against your coworker and /or,
- File a complaint with your employer and/or,
- File a civil lawsuit against your coworker and or your employer.
The possibility to file a complaint against the employer is conditioned with the fact that the employer has a duty of care to establish a safe working environment and shall be liable for the damages caused to you in case such an environment is not maintained and, in the result of which the employee gets assaulted.
Criminal reports to the police and the civil lawsuit seeking compensation for damages are not interrelated. If you have not filed a complaint with the police, you still have a right to go with a civil lawsuit against your coworker(or employer). However, it is better to report to the police for the assault, and one of the advantages of it is gathering and using evidence of criminal proceedings in your civil lawsuit.
Do I Need to File a Complaint/Lawsuit with My Employer?
The law does not stipulate filing a complaint with your employer as a mandatory step in the protection of your rights. However, such complaints shall allow you to raise carefulness and prevent other victims from being assaulted in the workplace.
It is possible to sue your employer for an assault of the coworker if you can prove that:
- The employer hired an unfit and not competent employee, that the employer was also negligent to supervise such employee,
- The employer knew that such an employee presents a danger for other employees.
What Remedies Can I Expect to Receive in a Civil Lawsuit Against My Employer?
Workplace assault is considered to be a work-related injury. Besides receiving compensation for lost wages, you can also seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses as well as psychological consultations, which were done to recover your physical and mental condition after the assault,
- Losses caused by an inability to work after the assault,
- Pain, suffering, emotional distress.
You shall be very careful in your defense and the lawsuit, as sometimes coworkers bring defamation claims and succeed in closing the case. For this reason, it is essential to receive professional legal aid and consultation from experienced attorneys.
If you or a loved one have been assaulted by a co-worker, we invite you to contact our office at 310-933-5171 for a free consultation with KAASS LAW experienced attorneys.