What Do You Think: Can Amazon Driver Shot by Masked Assailant Collect Workers’ Compensation?

02 Jun, 2024 Chris Parker

                               

Bloomfield, NJ (WorkersCompensation.com) -- It can be challenging to determine whether an act of violence in the workplace “arises out of employment” for workers’ compensation benefits. A New Jersey case illustrates the clues decision-makers in that state and in other states may examine when attempting to discern whether there is a causal link between a claimant’s job and his injury.

In that case, an Amazon driver arrived at work about an hour before his shift began and sat on the rear bumper of a delivery truck waiting for the dispatcher to give him his assignment.

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About 15 to 30 minutes later, a man wearing a mask and an Amazon vest stood before him. From about two arms' lengths away, the individual pointed a gun at the driver, shot him, and fled. The shooter did not attempt to rob the driver or harm any of the other employees in the parking lot.

It turned out that a week or two prior to the shooting, the driver had argued over the phone with a former co-worker about money. At the time of the shooting, the driver was still indebted to that co-worker. 

A workers’ compensation judge found the claim was not compensable because it did not arise out of the driver’s employment.

The court explained that for a claim to be compensable, there must be a causal connection between the employment and the injury. If an attack is just as likely to have occurred outside the workplace, the incident is not compensable. 


Did the shooting arise out of driver’s employment?

A. Yes. It occurred at work and was probably related to the money the driver owed his coworker.

B. No. The shooter specifically targeted the driver and there was no evidence linking the incident to the driver’s employment.


If you selected B, you agreed with the court in Avery v. Next Mile, L.L.C.,  No. A-2506-22 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 05/24/24), which held that the claimant’s injuries did not arise out of his employment.

The court observed that if an assault is purely personal in nature, the assailant is not a coworker, and there is no connection between the assault and the employment other than the fact that it occurred at work, the claim is not compensable. That was the case here.

Here, the driver admitted that he did not know the identity of the assailant, although he claimed the man wore an Amazon shirt. Further, there was no actual evidence linking the incident to the driver’s employment.

“Petitioner was singled out and shot in a parking lot where several other individuals were also present, the incident was not theft-related and no one else was approached or injured,” the court wrote.

The court agreed that the shooting was just as likely to have occurred outside the workplace and affirmed the denial of the claim.


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