Labor 411: Ask The Expert | Alexandra Hamilton (November 2016)

I was seriously injured by a gunshot at my workplace. The shooter was never caught. I am now unable to work at my regular job, and I have no income. What can I do?

Because you were injured at work, you are eligible for Workers' Compensation (WCAB) benefits, including medical treatment and disability benefits. Although you are entitled and should file to receive WCAB benefits, WCAB will not repay you all of your economic losses. There are additional avenues to cover your damages, including: California Victim Compensation Fund, Social Security disability, State disability and/or a civil lawsuit. Whether you can file a civil lawsuit depends on a few factors that would require a careful review of the facts in your case, including:

  • Was the shooter your employer's employee? If so, you may be able to sue your employer if your employer ratified the assault.
  • Was the shooter employed by another company? If so, you may be able to sue the shooter's employer if you can demonstrate that the employer knew that the shooter-employee was dangerous.
  • Was there inadequate security where you were working? If so, you may be able to sue if a third-party (not your employer) was in charge of securing the workplace, such as a property owner and/or security company.

For additional advice as to what you should do in your specific situation, you should consult with attorneys who specialize in personal injury claims as soon as possible because there are strict time limits under which you must act to protect your rights.