The question is: Do an injured employee get workers compensation benefits when he or she is assaulted in the workplace?
The answer is: sometimes.
The Alaska Workers Compensation Act is meant providers benefits to workers injured in the course and scope of their employment. If an assault or sexual assault is reasonably foreseeable and incidental to the employment, then the employee is entitled to workers compensation benefits. Obvious examples of an occupation where an assault is reasonably foreseeable and incidental to the employment include jail employees, hospital employees, police, security employees.
If the employment provided a unique opportunity which led to the assault, then workers compensation should apply. In Temple v Denali Lodge, 21 P 3rd 813 (Alaska, 2001), the Supreme Court cited a North Carolina case where a cocktail waitress stopped to help a stranded motorist who she recognized as a customer. He kidnapped and sexually assaulted her and she sustained serious injuries escaping.
If the employment creates a special risk, then subsequent injuries should be covered by workers compensation. The Supreme Court also cited a California case of a woman whose job required her to do home visits. Her husband posed as a customer under an assumed name and shot and killed her when she came to his apartment.
It is unlikely however that an employer would be responsible merely for failing to protect his employees from assault.
Keenan Powell has practiced Workers Compensation law in the State of Alaska for over 30 years and has dedicated her practice to Workers Compensation representing injured Alaskans handling hundreds of cases. A sample of verdicts she has obtained for Employees is found at http://www.keenanpowell.com/settlements_wc.html.
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