Maybe you’re an employer trying to manage a number of employees through a heated situation. Maybe you’re a customer on the wrong end of a physical altercation. Or maybe you’re an employee who lost your temper and made things worse than they had to be. When arguments get physical, they get that much more difficult to navigate–especially when it comes to who has liability after all is said and done.
Is the employer covered by his or her insurance policy when one of the employees has a physical altercation with a customer? It’s a scenario that every employer should be ready to respond to, even if it’s unlikely they’ll ever have to.
When you or your company are the targets of a personal injury lawsuit, it’s time to get your ducks in a row. If you have video surveillance of the incident–and if you don’t have a surveillance system, you should–then make sure to have it on hand when investigators come knocking on your door. The lawsuit will likely imply that the employer didn’t have the right level of control over the employee when the fight broke out. It might not seem fair, but there it is.
If your employee started a fight (or engaged in self-defense) and a customer was injured, you’ll want to file a police report immediately. You’ll also want to make sure to get descriptions of the altercation from witnesses and the employee. If you don’t have audio for the video surveillance footage, then ask people to transcribe the conversations that led up to the incident to the best of their recollection. If enough people saw the dramatic scene unfold, then the truth will inevitably float to the surface.
Employer coverage may be limited in situations during which an employee commits an act of violence against a customer or another employee. In the best case scenario, you and your employee can argue self-defense. Perhaps there were mitigating factors in play. Whether or not the employer can recoup costs depends completely on the individual situation.
If you’re a customer or employee injured, find personal injury counsel as soon as possible. If you’re an employer, you need to make sure the company is aware of your need for counsel as well.