Witness a Robbery? Getting Workers’ Compensation for Stress
If you or a loved one has witnessed or been the victim of a robbery, assault, or attack at work, you understand its high emotional impact. For many, watching a crime occur in real time seems more like a nightmare than a reality. Workers who witness violence or robberies may experience a flight-or-fight response, including quickened heartrate, sweating, agitation, and rapid breathing. But the effects may not end there.
Even after the physical symptoms subside, many workers are left with emotional scars and serious, diagnosed psychological conditions. Many victims of crimes in the workplace suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, and anger or mood disorders. Some workers experience flashbacks of the event, especially when the crime involved a weapon or threat of violence. The targeted victim of the traumatic event is not the only one to suffer; often employees who were eyewitnesses to a traumatic event develop psychological effects as well.
While any North Carolina worker may experience a robbery or assault in the workplace, certain fields are especially risky. According to the FBI, in 2016 there were 17,401 robberies in convenience stores and 8,178 robberies in gas stations nationwide. The following factors may increase a worker’s risk for workplace assault, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):
- Contact with the public
- Exchange of money
- Delivery of passengers, goods, or services
- Having a mobile workplace such as a taxicab or police cruiser
- Working with unstable or volatile persons in health care, social services, or criminal justice settings
- Working alone or in small numbers
- Working late at night or during early morning hours
- Working in high-crime areas
- Guarding valuable property or possessions
- Working in community-based settings
Aside from gas stations and convenience stores, other workplaces sharing the above characteristics include some restaurants, banks, hair and beauty salons, pawn shops, night clubs, taxicabs, hotels and motels, and parking pay booths.
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides that those workers affected by workplace violence should get the help they may deserve. Ricci Law Firm represents victims of and witnesses to robberies and assaults in the workplace. Affected workers may receive psychological treatment and medications. The workers’ compensation team at Ricci Law Firm often helps clients request and receive the correct medical and psychological treatment they may deserve.
Some psychological disorders like PTSD are so severe that they cause the worker to miss work or be unable to return to work. In those cases, workers’ compensation may also include weekly disability benefits paid to the affected worker. These benefits may continue until the worker returns to work or, if he or she cannot return to work due to the condition, until other suitable employment is found.
Depending on the type of robbery or assault, doctors who treat patients with PTSD and other trauma-related psychological conditions may not release a worker to return to the same workplace, because returning may trigger anxiety. In those cases, the workers’ compensation insurer either may continue paying benefits for up to 400 weeks or may provide the worker with re-training or education to work in a different field.
The attorneys at Ricci Law Firm help victims of crime in the workplace get the benefits they deserve under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. If you or a loved one witnessed an assault or robbery in the workplace, contact one of our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys.