Assaulted at Work by a Service User

31 May 2018

If you have suffered either a physical or psychological injury as a result of a physical workplace assault by a service user, you may be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries, lost earnings and out of pocket expenses. This is particularly true if your employer was aware of the risks and did not take reasonable steps to address these.

Most workplace assault claims can be dealt with on a No Win No Fee basis.

Workplace Assaults

While it’s possible for a workplace assault to occur in most work environments, some jobs do carry a greater risk than others. Health and social care workers who provide care to members of the public with complex needs may be exposed to a higher level of risk than those working in an office, for example.

Employers have a ‘duty of care’ to ensure the safety of employees and should take reasonable steps to ensure that safety standards are met. Where a patient / service user has a history of violence or has exhibited violent and aggressive behaviour, it’s important for employers to assess any risk of physical assault that may be posed. Comprehensive risk assessments should be carried out and steps should be taken to reduce these risks wherever possible.

For example, if a patient / service user poses a greater risk than others, for any reason, then it’s important for the employer to consider how many staff should be allocated to care for that individual. It’s also important for the employer to ensure that these members of staff are properly trained, for example in physical restraint techniques and de-escalation methods with the focus being on the needs of the individual patient / service user.

It may be that the needs of the patient / service user are so great that they should be transferred to a more appropriate care facility or a review of the patient / service user’s medication carried out to ensure that their medication is appropriate.

If an employer is aware of potential risks to an employee’s safety and has not taken reasonable steps to address these risks, resulting in a workplace assault, the employee may be entitled to make a personal injury claim for compensation.

To start a workplace assault claim call 0330 606 9587 or contact us and we will call you.

What Counts as Workplace Assault?

Any incidence of physical assault in the workplace constitutes a workplace assault. There tends to be a reluctance within the care industry to report all incidents of violence, with some simply accepting this as part of the job. However, it’s really important to note that this is not part of the job and no one should expect to be assaulted while they’re at work.

Those working in the health and social care sectors tend to be at a higher risk of assault because they are working with people in what are often difficult circumstances. They may be coming into regular contact with individuals who are unstable, under the influence of drink or drugs, have behavioural problems or have violent tendencies. Or it may be that service users and their families are suffering high levels of stress and anxiety. Service users might also become angry, confused or frustrated if they cannot properly express themselves or carry out tasks independently. All of these circumstances can lead to an increased risk of a workplace assault.

Examples of Workplace Assault by Service Users

Examples of workplace assault in the care industry are vast and varied, but some of the most common incidents could include:

  • A service user refusing treatment and lashing out at staff who attempt to administer this 
  • A carer being physically assaulted by a service user with learning difficulties while they are providing care
  • A catering assistant or cleaner being physically assaulted by a service user who is frightened or confused about who they are.

It’s important that all incidents of workplace assault are reported, no matter how minor they may seem. This will help employers to establish areas of risk and recognise steps that can be taken to reduce these risks. 

Making a Claim for a Workplace Assault

The first step in making a claim for a workplace assault by a service user is to get legal advice. When you call our personal injury team we will listen to you, we can assess your claim free of charge and advise you on what to do next.

When we have the details of your workplace assault we will be able to advise you if you claim can be dealt with on a No Win No Fee basis.

As soon as we take on your claim we work quickly to establish who is at fault and gather the evidence to obtain an admission of liability (fault). We will also gather information and evidence required to assess the value of your claim to negotiate a fair compensation settlement for you as quickly as possible.

Will Claiming for an Assault Affect My Job?

Employers in England and Wales are required by law to have Employers Liability insurance cover to protect people from injuries at work. When work related personal injury compensation is paid out, in the majority of cases, the compensation is paid by the employer’s liability insurance company and not the employer.

It is against the law to discriminate against an employee or to terminate the employment of an employee because the employee made a personal injury claim.

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