Victim of a Crime at Work? Consider Workers’ Comp.

Think you are safe at work? Unfortunately, even here in rural Eastern North Carolina, workplaces often present danger. Violent crimes such as armed robberies, assaults, kidnappings, and even sexual attacks now regularly occur in stores, restaurants, hospitals, offices, and factories. Just in the past week in Eastern North Carolina, innocent employees were involved in the following crimes at their workplace:

  • Washington, North Carolina (March 25, 2019):

A clerk at a Sweepstakes and Vape business shot and killed a robbery suspect. It is unknown whether the clerk, who had a concealed weapons permit, suffered any physical or mental injuries as a result of the traumatic incident.

  • Greenville, North Carolina (March 24, 2019): 

A shooting occurred during an apartment invasion at Carolina Creek Apartments. Reports of the incident do not disclose whether any apartment employees or property managers witnessed the shooting or were injured during the invasion.

  • Cary, North Carolina (March 22, 2019):

Barnes and Noble bookstore employees witnessed an active shooter in the store. Although it turned out that the suspect was using only a pellet gun when he shot into the store, injuring two people, store employees and customers who saw the realistic pellet gun believed the gun was a deadly weapon. The extent of any emotional harm to employees is unknown.

  • Greenville, North Carolina (March 26, 2019):

A woman shot another customer in the leg at Gashouse Convenience Store, only two doors away from a police station. The crime occurred during daytime hours when the store was typically staffed by a clerk. It is unknown whether any employees were injured or traumatized.

For many victims of workplace crimes, getting back to work after witnessing a violent event is not an option. Some crime victims, even those who suffer no physical injuries during the crime, often develop severe and even debilitating emotional trauma. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may take weeks or months to develop, but often include anxiety, depression, flashbacks, concentration problems, or sleep disorders.

Here’s what the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act can do for victims of a workplace crime, if the condition is properly reported as a work-related incident:

Medical Treatment

Workers’ compensation benefits include immediate treatment for physical injuries as well as any long-term conditions including psychological or mental effects of trauma. If the condition is deemed to be related to the work incident, the insurer must arrange all appointments, provide transportation to and from appointments, and pay all costs of medical treatment and medication.

Psychological Counseling

In addition to medical treatment, insurers must provide for counseling or behavioral therapy if recommended by an authorized treating physician. This may include private consultations or group therapy, depending on the situation.

Disability Benefits or Alternative Employment

If returning to the workplace or similar environment is traumatic or painful for a crime victim, the insurer may be required to find the affected employee a job in a different environment. If the insurer is unable to locate a suitable job nearby, then the insurer may be required to pay the employee weekly disability benefits until suitable employment can be located.

Vocational Retraining and Education

Many victims of violent crimes in the workplace find they cannot return to the same industry or field due to the trauma they witnessed. In those cases, depending on the situation, the insurer may be required to provide the worker with education such as community college classes or vocational training so that the worker can find long-term suitable employment. During the re-training period, most employees continue to receive weekly disability checks.

The workers’ compensation attorneys at Ricci Law Firm regularly represent victims of workplace crimes. If you or a loved one witnessed a traumatic event in the workplace, please contact us to discuss your situation.

Workers’ Compensation Lawyer serving Greenville and Raleigh

I’m Brian Ricci, a workers’ compensation lawyer serving Greenville and Raleigh. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury at work, please call me at (252) 752-7785 or 800-387-6406 for free, friendly advice.

I am a longtime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

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