Workplace Violence Costs 550 Lives a Year

It was reported recently that the Kansas man who shot 17 people, wounding 14 and killing three before police fatally shot him had previously lived in Miami, Fl.gunonblackandwhite

The horrific workplace shooting was perpetrated by a man who was a current employee of the lawn care equipment manufacturing site. Authorities at this time have not yet revealed a motive for the attack, though it was revealed authorities knew of “some things that triggered this incident.”

Before the gunman moved to Kansas, he lived in Miami, where he racked up a string of felony charges, including grand theft, burglary, concealed firearm violations, battery and violation of probation. His arrest record in Miami-Dade dates back to 1996.

Analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that workplace violence in the U.S. claimed an average of 551 lives annually, with 78 percent of those attributed to incidents involving firearms. The vast majority of these incidents occurred in the private sector.

There are another 1.2 million workplace violence cases annually that result in serious but non-fatal injuries.

From a personal injury law standpoint, it can be tough if not impossible for a worker injured in an on-the-job act of violence to recover damages from his or her employer. That’s true even when there were multiple “red flags” leading up the event, and the company failed to act.

You can thank Florida legislators for this. In 2003, lawmakers passed a measure that casts a broad net of immunity to employers for injuries and deaths that happen at work. It’s called “exclusive remedy,” and there are very few exceptions. The statute says workers can’t sue their employer in these cases except when they have “clear and convincing proof” that the company took deliberate actions that made the resulting injury or fatality “virtually certain.”

That’s a significantly higher standard of proof than reasonable doubt. These cases are extremely difficult to win, and that’s largely the doing of powerful business lobbyists.

Of course, this doesn’t mean workers are entirely without recourse. There is, after all, workers’ compensation coverage, which can be paid for on-the-job injuries and homicides – even if the company wasn’t negligent. However, victims are only going to receive coverage of medical expenses and a portion of lost wages.

Victims do have the right to sue their attacker and/or his estate (men are most often the culprits, according to the BLS), but this often proves fruitless. This action can be taken in addition to any criminal proceedings, but whether damages are actually paid will depend on the independent wealth of the shooter. Most insurance companies don’t extend coverage for intentional acts of violence. Even if the attacker is independently wealthy, you may be looking at splitting it with several other victims.

The other alternative would be to examine whether the negligence of any other third party played a role in the attack. For example, if that attack occurs while you are working, but on the property of a third-party, that third party may be liable for failure to ensure the site was safe and secure.

Victims who have endured these awful incidents should consult with an experienced attorney to learn more about their legal options.

If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.

Additional Resources:

Kansas Workplace Shooting Suspect Identified as Cedric Larry Ford, Sources Say, Feb. 26, 2016, By David Caplan, ABC News

More Blog Entries:

NHTSA: More Americans Wearing Seat Belts, March 2, 2016, Miami Work Injury Lawyer Blog

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