Does your company have a specific policy about how to handle the situation when a crime is being committed right in front of you, during business hours and on the business property? Don't be surprised if the company policy is "don't get involved." You may be expected to dial 911 and then stand idle.
Even if company policy isn't explicit, don't expect your company to easily pay your workers' comp claim if you get hurt on the job while trying to stop a crime. Here's what you should know:
Policies against stopping a crime in action are common.
Some policies don't make sense unless viewed as a management tactic to keep workers' compensation claims down. Your employer has an invested interest in avoiding workers' comp claims: it helps keep down insurance costs.
Trying to stop a crime in progress puts you in physical danger. A criminal who is bold enough to steal something or assault someone right in front of witnesses is probably not terribly concerned about hurting you in the process. If you get seriously injured while trying to stop the crime, that could lead to a very large workers' compensation claim, which in turn leads to increased insurance premiums for your employer.
The total long-term costs from an injured employee are likely to be a lot more than what the business stands to lose through theft (which can be deducted from taxes and is covered by different insurance anyhow). That's why people like Don Watson, a retail store manager, get fired when they try to protect the company by chasing after shoplifters. Companies want to make sure that policies designed to reduce the risk of on-the-job injury are strictly enforced.
Stopping a crime usually isn't considered part of your job.
In the absence of a clear policy, you are still probably expected to stand there and watch the crime happen without getting involved. While trying to help the victim of an assault may be the morally correct thing to do, it's still probably viewed as either against company policy or outside your job duties.
The Course and Scope Rule used by workers' comp says only injuries that rise out of the course and scope of employment are entitled to benefits. Unless you're a member of law enforcement or in a security position, your job description probably doesn't include anything about trying to stop a robbery or prevent an assault.
Consequently, even if you're at the place of business, in uniform, and on the clock, you could be denied workers' comp if you're hurt while acting heroically. That was the lesson learned by an Arkansas man who was shot in the stomach trying to stop an assault on a customer.
For the most part, you're probably far safer and smarter to know your company's policy on how to respond to a crime that's happening right in front of you and obey it, especially if it's just something being stolen or vandalized. However, if your sense of personal morality causes you to intervene in a crime against another human being and you get hurt, talk to a workers compensation lawyer. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may be able to appeal a denial of benefits.Share