When teachers are injured by students, are they eligible for workers' comp?Students aren't the only ones who feel back-to-school jitters. Even veteran teachers feel anxious at the start of a new school year. Every year, they face a new crop of students who often bring new problems with them.

Unfortunately, they have a reason to be apprehensive, because assaults on teachers by students are on the rise. Thousands of teachers—six percent of all educators by some estimates—will be assaulted by a pupil in the upcoming school year.

When an assault leads to physical and emotional injuries, the teacher needs medical and psychiatric care and a significant time off work to recover. These teacher-victims are eligible for workers’ comp benefits in Ohio.

Why Are Teachers Being Attacked in the Classroom?

Attacks on teachers aren't new phenomena. Since teenagers were first required to attend school decades ago, high school educators have been hit or knocked to the ground while breaking up fights or confronting belligerent students.

However, what's new are the assaults on teachers by younger pupils, and special needs students mainstreamed into regular classrooms.

According to a study conducted by the University of Missouri in 2017:

  • Female teachers are more likely to be assaulted.
  • Assaults are more frequent in districts with high levels of poverty.
  • Classroom teachers are often untrained in de-escalating violence in a mainstreamed student with behavioral issues.
  • Many districts don't have consequences in place for students, and they're often returned to the same classroom.

Typical Injuries Suffered in a School Assault

Teachers are most commonly hit in the face and pushed to the ground by violent students and can suffer a range of serious injuries, including:

  • Concussion or other traumatic brain injuries
  • Facial cuts and bruises
  • Back, shoulder, and neck injuries
  • Broken nose and other bone fractures
  • Emotional trauma, with little–to–no support from the district

These injuries may require many months of therapy before you can resume the difficult physical demands of your teaching job. You shouldn't suffer financial losses.

Actions You Should Take as an Injured Teacher in Ohio

As a teacher in Ohio, you're covered by workers’ compensation for medical treatment and lost wages. As with any workers’ comp claim, you must show that your injuries happened in your job. For example, if a student assaults you off school property, typically you wouldn't be eligible for a work-related claim as the injuries weren't sustained "in the course of employment."

Also, contact your teachers’ union. You might be entitled to paid assault leave under Ohio law. The Ohio Education Association (OEA) provides some liability coverage and may pay legal fees if you file a criminal complaint against your assaulter. It recommends you do the following if a student attacks you:

  • Write down all particulars, including names, witnesses, date, time, location, and general conditions.
  • Take pictures, if relevant and possible, of injuries or property damage.
  • Contact the proper school authorities.
  • Contact your union rep, and have the person determine your rights to assault leave under the Ohio Revised Code or the collective bargaining agreement.
  • Get a doctor’s statement if there's even a remote possibility of personal injury.
  • File all police reports.
  • Press charges against the assaulting student(s) or others.
  • Avoid talking to anyone representing the student or others without prior counsel.
  • Remember, members are covered by the OEA/NEA Legal Services Program if charges are filed against them.

Several steps will also be helpful in filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Monast Law Office Supports Ohio Teachers

My daughter-in-law and future daughter-in-law are teachers. We've helped many teachers who were injured in various ways on the job get the Ohio workers’ comp benefits they deserved. Being assaulted by a student is a traumatic experience. Let our team help you qualify for workers’ comp while you're recovering from physical injury and shock. We're here for you. 


James Monast
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Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbus, Ohio