Published on:

Social Worker Shot for Reasons Related to Her Job

Work-related injuries and illnesses are usually the result of an accident, such as a box or large piece of machinery falling on a worker or accidental occupational exposure to dangerous chemicals. However, a work-related injury or even death can also be the result of intentional violent conduct committed by a co-worker, company vendor, or even a third party assailant.

handcuffs1According to a recent news article from USA Today, a mother in a child custody dispute killed the social worker assigned to her case and is suspected of killing three members of her own family. Authorities say the 40-year-old mother was upset because she had lost custody of her nine-year-old daughter and went to the social worker’s office with a .270 caliber rifle. As the social worker was leaving her office by the rear door, suspect allegedly fired at social worker, hitting her in the upper torso and upper extremities and killing her.    Police believe that at least one of the gunshots was fired at close range.

Authorities say the suspect was still on the scene after witnesses dialed 911 after hearing shots. When the police first arrived at the scene, they allegedly found defendant with the rifle. They described her behavior as calm, and she made small talk with police, who said she even laughed during their conversation. She was placed under arrest for the murder of the social worker.

The day after the incident, police were continuing with their investigation and discovered defendant’s two cousins and aunts were dead in a nearby home. They have alleged defendant killed these three of her family members in addition to the social worker.

Defendant was present in the district court for her arraignment on capital murder charges, during which time she pleaded not guilty. The prosecutor asked for a mental health evaluation to see if she was competent to stand trial. However, defense attorney objected to this request, and the judge ordered it anyway. She was held without bail, as there is a presumption with murder cases that defendant is a danger to the community.   It is important to note, she has not been found guilty of any crime in connection with this matter and is innocent unless and until she is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

As our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, while a shooting would typically not be the cause of a workplace injury, if the shooting occurred in relation to one’s official duties, then it could be deemed a work-related injury for which the employer is required to compensate the injured employee. However, there may likely be a great deal of litigation over this issue.

While an employer may argue he or she is not liable for injury caused on an employee’s way home from work under the “going and coming” exclusion to workers’ compensation liability, a shooting like the one described in the article was mostly likely related to her official duties and, therefore, a claimant could argue this was within the scope of employment. However, this only a hypothetical example, and you should speak with your experienced attorney about your actual situation.

If you are injured on the job in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim: 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Police: Mom killed social worker after custody dispute, August 11, 2015, USA Today, by Mike Donoghue

More Blog Entries:

Frith v. WSI – Proving Worsening Condition Is Related to Work Injury, May 27, 2014, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog