Work Place Violence. Is It a Worker's Comp Case?

What do you do when you want to file a complaint against your employer?

Do you file a complaint with the court, or is the complaint governed by the Worker’s Compensation Act (“the Act”)? Sandra Martin was faced with this dilemma in April 2015, when she alleged a claim for worker’s compensation benefits against her employer, Lincare Inc., a claim of assault and battery against Angela Stewart, a co-employee, and a tort of outrage claim against Stewart and Lincare.

Both Lincare and Stewart argued that the claims should be dismissed because they were due to be dismissed under the exclusivity provision of the Act.

In the above mentioned case of Ex parte Lincare, Inc., a Jefferson County trial court entered an order in which it severed the worker’s compensation claim from the tort claims for purposes of trial. In other words, the worker’s compensation claim and the tort claims were not to be tried together.

The trial court denied Lincare and Stewart’s motion to dismiss Martin’s tort claims and allowed the jury demand to remain for the tort claims. Lincare and Stewart filed a petition for a writ of mandamus.

A writ of mandamus is an extraordinary writ by a superior court ordering an inferior court to either do or refrain from doing something. The Supreme Court of Alabama granted Lincare and Stewart’s Writ of mandamus.

In Austin v. Ryan’s Family Steakhouses, The Supreme Court of Alabama held that because the assault alleged by Martin occurred during the scope of Martin’s employment, then Martin’s claims against Lincare were governed by the Act. The Supreme Court of Alabama also noted that Martin’s injuries occurred as a result of an “accident” as defined by the Act.

Since these issues are often times rather complex, then the next time that you find yourself faced with this dilemma, you need to consult with an experienced worker’s compensation attorney.

If you are hurt on the job, contact workers’ compensation attorney Joseph A. Ingram at (205) 236-3997.

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