What to do if a co-worker burned me and no action was taken?

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What to do if a co-worker burned me and no action was taken?

I was at work and talking with another co-worker, when another co-worker passed by me, made a rude comment and then threw his cigarette at me. I was burned on 2 spots on my leg quite badly. So I went to my boss told him what had happend; he made some joke about it and just shrugged it off. The co-worker and my boss both make very rude comments all the time at work’ nothing was ever done even after I asked for it to stop. Can I sue?

Asked on July 21, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the co-worker for assault and battery.  Assault is intentionally placing one in reasonable apprehension of an immediate battery without consent or privilege.  Assault does not require any physical contact; only being placed in reasonable apprehension of immediate physical contact.  The physical contact is battery.  Battery is the harmful or offensive touching of the person of another without consent or legal privilege. 

Assault and battery are both civil (lawsuit) and criminal.  You can cotact the police and file criminal charges against the co-worker for assault and battery.  Your civil suit is separate from the criminal case, and both can be pursued simultaneously.  When you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor, obtain your medical bills, medical reports, and documentation of any wage loss.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to support your claim for pain and suffering which is compensation in addition to the medical bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  You can also seek to recover punitive damages ( a substantial amount to punish the intentional, wrongful acts of the co-worker).

An employer is liable for the negligence of an employee which occurs in the course and scope of employment.  Since assault and battery are intentional acts which are outside the scope of employment, your employer would not be liable for the co-worker's action; however, you may have a claim against your employer for the supervisor's negligence in failing to stop the co-worker's harassment.


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