Workplace Violence & Homicide

In a 2007 study, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) pointed out that the most frequent types of fatal workplace accidents in North Carolina were highway crashes (44), homicides (25), falls to a lower level (17) and being struck by an object (14).

Work-related homicides, the second most frequent cause of workplace deaths, account for 11 percent of fatal work accidents in the United States and 16 percent in North Carolina.

Another BLS study, in 2005, showed that, in North Carolina, 787 assaults and other violent acts in the workplace accounted for 14 percent of all fatal occupational injuries, and were the leading cause of death among women.

Violence may take a variety of forms, including harassment, physical assault and murder, perpetrated by current or former employees, family members or unknown people.

Are employers liable for violent acts perpetrated at work?

Under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee who suffers a work-related injury is not allowed to bring a civil tort action against the employer when the injury is compensable. In the opinion of North Carolina’s courts, an injury deriving from an act of violence would be compensable if there is either a job-related motivation or another causal relationship between the violent act and the job.

In some cases, employers may be held liable for negligent hiring, retention and supervision of violent employees, under the presumption that an employer uses due care in hiring and employing people and should not employ them if they are known as violent or with criminal records.

In order to prevent a lawsuit by employees injured in violent acts, employers would do well to take legal action on behalf of employees who are being threatened. North Carolina’s Workplace Violence Prevention Act allows an employer to seek a restraining order to prevent potentially violent individuals from visiting, assaulting, molesting, interfering, contacting, stalking, harassing, abusing or injuring the employee at the workplace.

If you have been the victim of a workplace accident, contact Joe Miller Law in Elizabeth City, where attorney Joseph Miller, Esq has been representing injured North Carolina workers for over 20 years. Call us locally 757-455-8889 or toll-free 888-694-7994 or send us an e-mail for a FREE, no commitment discussion of your case.