If you have been the innocent victim of an assault at work, which you believe to be the fault of your employer, you could be entitled to claim compensation in respect of your injuries.
Who is at Risk of Assaults at Work?
Claiming Compensation for an Assault at Work
How Much Compensation am I Likely to Receive?
Our Specialist Injury Lawyers
Compensation Claim Advice
An assault in the workplace is any form of physical violence against an employee, whether by a colleague, manager, customer or patient.
Workplace assaults can leave the victim not only with physical injuries, but also with shattered confidence and even psychological damage.
Some assaults at work are unpredictable events that could not be prevented, however in certain cases there are measures that an employer should have taken to reduce the risk of harm to their employees.
There are certain occupations which hold a higher risk of assaults on employees. A good example of this is the nursing profession, in particular the mental health sector.
Other employees at risk may include teachers, security guards and assistants in late night facilities, such as petrol stations.
Naturally it is not possible for an employer to control the actions of every person that enters the workplace and prevent all assaults entirely, however they do have a responsibility to take measures to reduce the risks as far as is reasonably practicable if the risk of injury from assault is high.
In some cases, for example those involving mental health patients or individuals with challenging behaviour, it is foreseeable that certain persons may become aggressive and attempt to assault a member of staff. Perhaps they have a history of violent behaviour, an aggressive nature or become especially agitated under certain circumstances. It is important that the needs, medication requirements and behaviour of these patients are regularly monitored and staff are made aware of any potential problems.
Measures that an employer can take to reduce the risk of assaults on employees include:
• Risk assessments of employees’ work and work environment
• Individual assessments of patients/pupils in the case of hospitals, mental health establishments and schools
• Sufficient staff training (including in some circumstances training in control and restraint techniques)
• Safety facilities where appropriate (i.e. protective screens)
• Maintaining the correct staffing levels (for example ensuring that employees are not left alone in certain situations)
If you have been the victim of a workplace assault, it is always important to seek prompt advice from a specialist lawyer, such as The Legal Line's lawyers.
In any personal injury claim it is necessary to show that the person you are making a claim against owed you a duty of care, that they breached that duty of care (were negligent), and that the injury you sustained was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of that negligence. Your lawyer will be able to collate all of the information about your case and advise you on the best way in which to proceed.
It is rarely practical to make a civil claim against the individual who committed the assault, as in many cases they would not have the means to pay damages. If however you believe that the risks to your health and safety at work were high and additional measures should have been taken by your employer to protect your safety, and that these measures would have prevented the assault, it may be possible to make a claim against your employer.
In some cases an employer may also be liable for the deliberate actions of an employee in assaulting someone, provided the act is closely connected with the assailant's employment.
A lawyer can assess the prospects of making a successful compensation claim against an employer and whether or not it can be proved that they are responsible for your injuries.
There are two elements to a compensation award.
The first, called general damages, is for the pain and suffering you may have gone through and any loss of amenity (perhaps an inability to wash your car, look after your garden, walk the dog). The award for loss of amenity can be for a short period after an assault at work or for ever if that is what the medical evidence supports.
The second element of a compensation award, for your losses and expenses, is known as special damages and aims to put you back in a position financially as if the incident had never occurred. It is important to keep receipts for any expenditure you have related to your injury so that these can be reclaimed.
In serious cases, where a person may no longer be able to continue their employment, this can be taken into account. Costs for care, equipment, transport and housing modifications can also be factored into the calculations. If the person is still able to work but not in the same role as before, particularly if they held a public service role such as a doctor or police officer, an extra amount may be awarded for loss of ‘congenial employment’. This is in recognition of the fact that some work brings benefits beyond those which are purely monetary, for example the satisfaction of carrying out a public service. A court can also make a financial award to recognise that an injured worker's prospects on the open labour market may be limited.
If a person is fatally injured, a dependent relative such as a widow and children may be able to claim a statutory sum for their bereavement and funeral expenses, but also sums for the loss of income and contribution to the household in the form of future losses.
Remember to keep details of any medical treatment and receipts for any injury related expenses, as these may be useful in your claim.
The details of each case are assessed individually, as a number of factors affect the amount of compensation awarded in a personal injury claim. These include the extent of the injury, recovery period, any loss of earnings, other losses related to the injury (for example medical expenses and care costs) and whether or not the victim was partially to blame.
Awards made in previous claims of a similar nature are used as a guideline however, together with general guidelines from the Judicial Studies Board. Our ‘How Much’ section provides further information and you can find details of previous settled cases in our personal injury news and success stories sections.
The Legal Line’s lawyers are experts in all areas of personal injury claims and have recovered compensation on behalf of many victims of assaults at work, including the following cases:
Patricia was employed at a council-run home in Weston Super Mare for children with behavioural problems and learning difficulties. Her duties included monitoring the progress and behaviour of the children, taking them on excursions, organising their meal and bed times and dealing with parents and representatives of the Council.
After several months of working at the home, a new child from a difficult family background was taken in. At this time Patricia was not made aware that he had previously been violent towards other carers and she was not given any specific information, instruction or training on how to look after him or deal with situations where he became aggressive.
On two separate occasions the child assaulted Patricia. She was first punched in the face after asking the child to vacate a room where hot drinks were being prepared. Following this incident she was very shaken, with cuts and bruising, so reported the matter to her employers. They assured her that measures would be put into place to prevent a recurrence and her colleagues were told that she should not be left alone with the child.
After three months however, Patricia was assaulted again by the same child. He had left his bedroom late at night and she was assisting a colleague in returning him. She was left alone with the child and this time, a much more serious assault ensued. Patricia was left with cracked ribs and a knee injury that eventually required surgery. She also lost earnings due to several months absence from work as a result of the injury.
Although the Council’s solicitors initially denied any responsibility, our lawyers were confident that her employer was negligent and issued proceedings. They were able to recover £10,000.00 compensation on Patricia’s behalf.
The Safety and Security in Ashworth, Broadmoor and Rampton Hospital Directions 2000 recommended compulsory risk assessments on all patients. Had these been carried out, the hospital would have recognised that the patient presented a high, immediate risk of causing serious injury to others. She then would have been confined to her room at night and the incident would not have occurred.
As it happened, the patient was able to leave her room at night, go to the ward office and assault a staff member.
A staff nurse in a psychiatric intensive care unit, our client was asked by the manager to assist him to escort a person from the premises. The man was a previous patient who should not have been able to gain access to the facility. Despite previous complaints from staff regarding the need for secure doors to the unit, these had not been fitted and the man was able to walk onto the unit unannounced. Had these been in place, providing an adequate safety system, the assault at work would not have occurred.
Having ignored several requests to leave, the man was restrained and escorted as far as the main entrance doors. He then became verbally abusive and attempted to assault another member of staff. The manager and our client were able to restrain him at that point but as they continued to walk him on towards the doors, the man broke free and swung our client around causing him to fall heavily on his knee.
Our client was immediately transported to hospital where he was diagnosed with a fracture to his knee, which required the fitting of several metal screws under general anaesthetic. He was in hospital for several days. He then had to rely on his wife and son for some considerable time, as he was unable to carry out the most basic of every day tasks. He was unable to drive for several months, or carry out gardening and other tasks around the house.
It was almost a year before he was able to return to work after this accident at work and he still experiences intermittent stiffness and aching in his knee. He has been advised that he will be at increased risk of developing secondary conditions or require full knee replacement surgery at some time in the future. He suffers pain on a daily basis, which is worse during cold or wet weather, and he has been left with a very visible scar from the invasive surgery.
Although liability for this injury at work was admitted by the defendant, it was necessary to issue court proceedings, as the other side’s insurers would not agree a settlement figure. Our specialist personal injury solicitors were able to negotiate almost £40,000 in compensation for our client before the case went to court.
Initially he was unable to work for 3 weeks but then returned to his duties despite still needing to take painkillers to ease his discomfort. Some months later the client was still in discomfort and his GP referred him for an x-ray, which revealed that surgery was required to try to correct the damage, though this failed to provide any improvement. A further operation and extensive physiotherapy were later necessary, but he has been advised that he will have permanent residual symptoms in his right shoulder.
Since the injury his ability to take part in his preferred sporting activities has been impossible and duties around the house have also been left to his partner. He has been unable to return to his previous work duties, although he has returned in an alternative role which does not involve heavy manual lifting. His future employment is also considerably restricted due to his inability to carry out any tasks above shoulder height.
His employers accepted full responsibility for the workplace assault and our lawyers were able to obtain almost a quarter of a million pounds in compensation for the injury and loss of future earnings.
Our client was unable to return to her job or take similar work, so suffered a considerable loss of earnings. She also sustained a severe loss of confidence, which affected her socially.
When the matter was investigated, it transpired that the resident had spoken of his intention to assault our client to her Clinical Team Leader. No mention of this was ever made to her however and nothing was recorded in the report book. Had our client been warned of the threat, steps could have been taken to prevent this traumatic workplace assault from occurring.
A claim was made against the Hospital Trust, as they failed to take adequate measures to protect our client’s safety. Our expert lawyers were able to secure £109,000 compensation on her behalf, in respect of her injuries and losses.
Compensation Claim for Workplace Assault
Compensation Claim for Victim of Assault at Work
Care Assistant Assaulted at Work by Patient Receives Compensation
Residential Home Employee Receives Compensation for Workplace Assault
Compensation for Nurse Assaulted by Mentally Ill Patient
Care Home Employee Injured in Assault at Work Receives Compensation
Compensation for Woman Assaulted by Pupil With Challenging Behaviour
Teaching Assistant Injured at Work Due to Lack of Trained Staff
Hospital Employee Injured in Assault at Work Receives Compensation
Below is a list of contacts that you may find helpful if you or someone you know has suffered a personal injury through an assault at work:
HSE Information page on workplace violence in the Health Service – Advice for health care providers.
Safeworkers.co.uk – Information and guidance for workers about violence and harassment in the workplace.
Worksmart from the TUC – Provides information and advice about violence in the workplace and employee rights.
Home Office Report on Violence at Work – Statistics and information about workplace violence.
If you or a member of your family requires assistance following a workplace assault that you believe to be the fault of an employer, contact The Legal Line today for sympathetic advice and guidance on 0800 0328511.
Alternatively, complete an online compensation claim enquiry form and we will contact you to discuss the matter.