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Court upholds workers' compensation for employee after shooting

Connecticut's workers' compensation system provides benefits for workers who have been hurt in workplace accidents or sickened by occupational illnesses. It is reasonably clear that a qualified worker who is hurt in an accident at the job site while performing his or her job duties should be covered by the benefits system. However, there are many cases in which coverage is not so clear.

A case from another state helps illustrate some of the issues that can complicate workers' compensation coverage. The state's Supreme Court recently upheld a lower court's ruling that a former employee at a clothing store should receive workers' compensation to help pay for treatment of post-traumatic stress syndrome and drug and alcohol rehabilitation stemming from an incident in which he was shot nine times by an assailant at the store.

According to reports, the man worked at a Gen-X clothing store when the store was robbed. After he reported the robbery to the police, a suspect was arrested. The suspect then enlisted his brother in an attempt to kill the employee and silence him as a witness. The brother entered the store and shot the man. When the employee tried to run away and fell to the floor, the assailant shot him several more times, according to police.

The man suffered serious and permanent injuries, but survived. However, he continued to be plagued by anxiety over the attack and developed a substance abuse problem. In his workers' compensation claim, he asked to be compensated for psychological treatment and drug and alcohol rehabilitation as well as for his emergency room medical expenses related to the shooting.

His employer and its insurer denied the claim, arguing that there was no link between the workplace shooting and some of the man's psychological treatment. A workers' compensation court found in favor of the worker, and the Supreme Court of the state agreed.

While this case is unusual and falls under the law of a different state, it does offer lessons for Connecticut workers. One important aspect of workers' compensation is that the system may help compensated workers for the complex and lingering effects of workplace injuries. Connecticut attorneys with experience in workers' compensation law can help assess each client's unique set of circumstances and help them fight for the benefits they deserve.

Source: Connecticut Post, "Workers' comp benefits OK'd for wounded manager," Margery A. Beck, April 11, 2014

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