Can I claim injury compensation if I’m assaulted by a patient or service user?

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Whether you support the elderly, children or vulnerable adults, work in schools, care homes, mental health or the NHS, you’ll know that things can sometimes go wrong.

We get regular enquiries from people who work in the healthcare sector after they’ve been injured by a patient or service user. Here, we’ll talk you through your rights, and explain when you might be entitled to compensation and can successfully make a patient assault claim.

Table of contents

What counts as an injury or assault in healthcare?

Medical, care and support worker injuries can be sustained in a whole range of scenarios (see the comments below for an idea). This is particularly true when supporting people with behavioural problems, mental health issues, high stress levels or addiction issues.

As such, it might be that you’ve been assaulted when trying to do your job, or found yourself caught in the middle of a wider altercation. It might even be that the injury you’ve suffered is a psychological or emotional one.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines work-related violence as ‘any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work’. This covers all serious and unprovoked acts of physical or verbal aggression, including racist, sexist or homophobic abuse.

Do I have a valid assault at work claim?

Health and care work carries more risks than a standard office job, but that doesn’t mean injuries or assaults should be seen as unavoidable. In fact, the opposite is true.

All employers have a legal duty of care for the safety of their employees. They have a responsibility to assess any potential risks you might face, to keep you informed of them, and to take all reasonable steps to meet any required safety standards.

They also need to make sure you have the training to deal adequately with the people you’re helping. In some support work roles, this would be expected to include Management of Actual or Potential Aggression (MAPA) or Managing Violence & Aggression (MVA) training. Employers should also ensure that the individuals you’re supporting have up-to-date care plans and risk assessments, as well as informing you if they have any potential risky behavioural traits.

If your injury has been sustained as a result of a lapse in your employer’s duty of care, or due to the negligence of one of your colleagues, you could well be eligible to make a claim. If, for example, your employer was aware – or should have been aware – that an individual had a history of violence and aggression, but had neglected to inform you, this could strengthen your case.

Bear in mind too that routine work accidents also happen to support workers, just as they do to people in any other job. If you’ve been badly injured by a trip hazard, a falling object or something similar – and another party was to blame – we can advise you’re eligible for accident at work compensation.

What should I do if I’m injured by a patient or service user?

All injuries sustained, either in a regular workplace or while undertaking support work, should be reported to your employer at the earliest opportunity.

Employers should have official accident and injury books for you to fill in, but in other situations you may have to make a report independently. Try to include as much specific detail as you can, covering where, when and how the injury occurred. You should also highlight any possible areas that would show employer negligence.

Care work often involves solo, one-on-one support, so in the absence of other witnesses, making an accurate incident report can be key. If other people did witness the incident, however, it would be very useful for your claim to keep a record of their details.

If you’ve been unable to report the injury, or your employer prevented you from making an official record, don’t panic – we can help you to do so.

Remember, you have legal rights after a work injury, for example, being able to request lighter duties while you recover. So make sure you understand them.

Should I always seek medical treatment for the injury?

Absolutely. We would always recommend seeing a medical professional. If you’ve been severely hurt this goes without saying, but all other injuries should also be assessed, whether that’s by your GP, at a NHS walk-in clinic or through a registered mental health therapist. Remember that telephone or online appointments can often be arranged when it’s impossible to attend in person.

Keep a record of all treatment you receive and any medication you’re prescribed. If your case is successful, medical evidence will be one of the things that’s used to work out the compensation you’re due.

If you need any advice or help with this, please call us on 01225 430285.

How much can I claim for assault?

This will be determined by the impact the injury has had on your life. Successful personal injury claims tend to have two parts.

The general damages portion of a claim compensates you for the pain and suffering you’ve endured, and also includes loss of amenity, which covers your overall enjoyment of life.

The special damages portion looks at the impact your injury has had on your working life. In the case of a valid claim, you would likely be in a position to recover the loss of income (including future income) caused by your injuries, as well as any other expenses you’ve incurred as a result.

It’s important that you can prove these expenses, so you should always keep receipts for any taxi fares, hospital car parking, petrol costs, massage therapies, prescription costs or physio treatments.

Each incident is different, of course, but if your case is successful, our long experience in claims work means we’ll be able to ensure you receive the sum you’re fairly due.

Let us help

You’re in safe hands with Direct2Compensation. Our claims process is transparent and effective, and you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with our no-win, no-fee approach.

To find out more, or to start your claim today, call us 01225 430285. If you prefer, we can call you back. After just a few minutes on the phone, we’ll have enough information to allow our solicitors to get your claim started.

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Comments & Questions

Read on for questions and advice about claiming, plus support worker assault claim examples...

I was injured while working and I was home for 4 weeks. I was only paid the statutory sick pay without compensation.
I resumed back to work again and a client was violent and twisted my hand at the same spot again. Now I’m been asked to sit in the house without pay.

Ian Morris

If we can show that your employer failed to do all that could be expected of them to minimise the risk of you suffering an injury at work with the client in question, we will be able to recover your lost income and also compensation for the painful injury that you have suffered. Please call us on 01225430285 so that we can find out more about the incidents in which you were injured at work, advise you about your rights and whether you can pursue a No Win No Fee personal injury claim.

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I was bitten badly by a dementia resident whilst trying to comfort her, her bite drew blood and bruised so I had to go to a&e to get 2 injections and also required stitches. My hand was bandaged for 4 days with my unable to use it or drive. My work do not do sick pay so I had to get lifts into work and be on light duties but it was very difficult to do so when working on a dementia ward and my hand was very painful. No risk assessment or return to work was ever carried out by my manager. On 2 days my finger was so painful I had to leave work and will not be paid for those days. One one day I had a doctors appointment to get stitches removed and for them to look at wound. I had to take the day off unpaid as my manager said ‘we don’t do sick pay’ even though I wasn’t off sick. He then said to me he was ‘doing me a favour even letting me work as I can’t do my full duties’ even though I explained to him I had no choice to work because I needed to pay my bills. I have now lost out on money where I’ve had to leave work or have the day off for a doctors appointment. Is it even worth me doing a claim or do I not stand a chance?

Ian Morris

There is certainly a chance of succeeding with a claim for personal injury compensation in such circumstances and we are very happy to look in to this for you.

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I was Assaulted At Work By A Patient in an NHS setting. This patient was found guilty in a court of law. Do I have a case? I have since left the NHS after 20 years service because of the assault & lack of after care.

Ian Morris

The scenario you describe would indicate that you have valid grounds to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation. The main concern we have in this matter is that there is very little of your 3 year claim limitation period remaining available. Although individuals are afforded 3 years to make their claim, it is important that claims are made at the earliest possible opportunity as it can take some months to build a robust claim and when less than 6 months are available, many Solicitors are unable to pursue a claim on a No Win No Fee basis due to the increased risks of not being able to process the claim and succeed within the short time available.

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Was assaulted by a service user with learning difficulties Feb this year, ear bitten through and sustained whiplash – been off work since. I had hospital treatment and now have a psychiatrist and mental health nurse. Hospital took photos. I still have bad nights due to that assault and myself mentally scarred and still attending physio…don’t know if u can help because I live in Scotland?

Ian Morris

We are able to assist with personal injury compensation claims under Scottish legislation on a No Win No Fee basis and would be happy to have your situation looked in to. To get further help, you can either use our website form to provide further details and request a call, or you can liaise with us directly on email at justice@direct2compensation.co.uk

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A service user was attacking staff. We placed him in arm restraint however his legs were not restrained and he proceeded to kick me as I was restraining his arm. He kicked me in the side of the knee. I fell to the floor and was unable to walk. I was then carried over to another patient on 1:1 and told to observe him whilst seated. I was left on 1:1 for around 20 minutes before being taken over and then I was sent straight to a&e as I was unable to walk. I was x rayed and I have split a ligament in my left leg. I am unsure if I have a claim?

Ian Morris

We feel that it is likely that you do have a valid claim for personal injury compensation. Please provide further details so that we can investigate this potential claim for you.

If the restraining of the service user was not completed sufficiently or correctly and this allowed them to cause your injury you would have a viable claim. Likewise, if the staff on duty had not received the correct training in restraining service users or if the risks posed by the service user in question had not been adequately noted and advised to staff, you could pursue a claim.

We know your rights and can advise you further. Our specialist Solicitors are well used to acting on behalf of care and support worker staff and will be able to advise you in detail on your potential claim.

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I was hit in the forehead with a walking stick by a resident with dementia, it was unprovoked and he was not known to be violent. It is only a small cut which was glued and a butterfly stitch, can I claim?

Ian Morris

There is the potential to pursue a claim if it can be shown that there were steps that the employer could have taken to reduce the risk of this incident, but failed to do so. Our specialist Solicitors will be able to advise you about this and will gladly act if it is felt that there are reasonable prospects of succeeding.

Our Solicitors undertake a considerable amount of work for people injured by service users – people such as care workers and support workers. Although the individual service users can pose risks of unpredictable violence, employers do have a duty of care to ensure that they take every possible step to protect their staff. This includes ensuring that all staff are appropriately trained, that adequate risk assessments are undertaken and that correct staffing levels are maintained.

To enable our Solicitors to consider your claim and advise you further, please contact us – either by completing our initial website form or by calling us on 01225430285.

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Hello,
I am a support worker in a low secure forensic unit. A patient with a history of violence and abuse was being antagonised by another patient and went into the lounge area(where there were other patients also). Myself and another nurse (who is half my size ) went into the lounge to see if they were ok. The patient picked up a large wooden TV cabinet and threw it at the nurse. However as he threw it I turned the nurse around to protect her and the cabinet hit the back of my neck and shoulder. They then started to punch the nurse and I blocked these trying to protect her, therefore getting punched in the head several times. The nurse attack alarms were pulled and threw all the restraint etc somehow the patient bit my arm drawing blood. As staff managed to get my arm released, I could not move my right arm and my shoulder had dropped. I was checked by the on call doctor who suspected a dislocated shoulder. I was driven to the hospital and had two x-rays with dislocated shoulder confirmed. I was given antibiotics for the bite mark and put in a sling. I have been off work for 5 weeks but my arm and shoulder are still in considerable amount of pain and a longer absence is more than likely.
Just wondered what my options were.
Thanks

Ian Morris

Please use the form to our website to provide further details to us. Our specialist Solicitors can then advise you on the specifics of your situation.

Our specialist Solicitors have a track record of success in acting for support workers, care workers and Health Care professionals injured as a result of unpredictable and violent service users. They will be able to consider your situation and if viable, pursue a claim for you on a No Win No Fee basis.

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I’m a care worker visiting elderly people in their home. I was attacked by one of my patients and had a cup thrown at my face which has smashed and left me cut and bruised. I’ve visited A&E and luckily I’m only bruised and swollen, however this has really affected my confidence and mental health. I don’t feel able to work at the moment however won’t be paid. Is there anything I can do?

Ian Morris

Make sure that this incident is reported (in writing – such as an accident book or by email) to your employer and you should also detail the injuries both physical and psychological to your employer and your GP.

As you will appreciate, the work you undertake does involve providing services for some people who are confused, disorientated and perhaps aggressive. However, employers do have a duty of care to ensure that care workers are given the appropriate training, support and care plan information to enable them to work as safely as possible. We have Solicitors who have a proven track record of acting for care and support workers injured whilst at work and we would be happy to further investigate your potential claim.

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I was assaulted by a service user in January 2020 whilst at work. I work in mental health within the NHS. The patient in question had autism and learning disabilities, but was known to be aggressive and was in long term segregation because of this.
As a result, I was left with lots of bruising and had some hair ripped out.

I was working under the staffing ratio through no fault of my own and when I attempted to claim through the RCN, I got no joy as they stated thatI was at fault for not following the care plan – even though I had no choice as we were understaffed!

The staff who I attended to the service use with were agency and were not trained to restrain. The colleague didn’t respond to the panic alarm call and the result was that I was left injured. I had 6 months off work before I went back on a phased return basis and I am now working in a different ward.

Would it be worth talking with someone? Thank you.

Ian Morris

Not following a care plan could be a reason for an employee who was injured as a result not succeeding with a claim. However, if the care plan was impossible to follow due to reasons beyond the workers control – as in this case (insufficient staffing levels), it should be possible to provide mitigation and for a claim to be further considered.

The main concern we would have at this stage is that you appear to only have a month or two of your 3 year claim limitation period available to pursue this matter. This does make it very hard for a Solicitor to build and submit a robust claim in such a short space of time.

We do have Solicitors who can consider your claim and whether anything further can be done.

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How can I claim for an injury I sustained during a restraint of a teenage resident in the home I work in?
I have been off work since January due to my injury.

Ian Morris

We have specialist Solicitors who handle a considerable amount of claim work for support workers and support staff injured whilst trying to work with service users who demonstrate challenging behaviours. Employers in such environments need to ensure that the staff that they are placing at risk are appropriately trained, that the correct ratio of staff are available and that risk assessments and care plans are properly updated.

We can help you to pursue your claim and our specialist Solicitors will be able to act for you on a No Win No Fee basis.

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I recently sustained a moderate hand sprain by a resident with dementia in the care home I work in. I have been to hospital and the sprain has been confirmed. This also happened out of the blue. This resident is not violent nor have they ever done anything like this before. I have been signed off work until June 15th.

Ian Morris

As the individual who injured you had not previously displayed any violence or aggression, it may be hard to succeed with claim. However, if the employer has not provided you with appropriate training in handling sudden acts of violence or aggression from residents or if they hadn’t appropriately risk assessed the individual in question, you could pursue a claim for personal injury.

It would probably be sensible to have a no-obligation discussion about this with our specialist Solicitors as they will be able to identify whether or not you can pursue a claim. Our No Win No Fee service guarantees that you would face no costs should we either not pursue your claim, or if it were to fail, so you can investigate this further without worrying about legal costs.

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I’m a support worker for an agency and go to different service users. I was assaulted by a service user who is well known for being physically violent to staff and for being violent to the other people he lives with along with causing damage in the house he lives in.

Ian Morris

We strongly recommend that you make a full written report of the incident for the workplace and the agency who sent you there. It would seem that you avoided physical injury, but you may well have been left emotionally distressed and anxious. If you have needed any medical treatment for the stress and anxiety caused to you, you could potentially pursue a claim for personal injury compensation.

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I work in a special needs school and I suffered a back injury after a child held onto my arm then dropped to the floor resulting in a pulled back – could I get any compensation as I only received basic statutory pay?

Ian Morris

You can only recover lost salary if you can establish that the school/employer had been negligent and failed to prevent an avoidable injury. Clearly, in a workplace such as yours, where children may struggle to behave in a ‘normal’ way or to control themselves, there is an inherent risk of injury to the staff working there. However, employers have an obligation to minimise the risk of injury and prevent injuries where possible. In this case, we must therefore look at what training you had been provided with to see whether the employer has failed in their duty of care, or whether there was an appropriate risk assessment in place for the student in question.

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I work as a HCA for NHS. I was punched in the face by a large confused male patient. I now have whiplash type injuries and I have been off for 5 weeks so far due to this as I can’t carry out normal everyday things due to severe neck pain and lack of neck mobility. Can I Claim?

Ian Morris

There are two potential routes through which you may be able to claim personal injury compensation.

Firstly, you may be able to pursue a claim against your employers insurance if it can be shown that they could have prevented you suffering injury. Clearly, the patient in question was confused, but if the employer knew, or should have known that he posed a risk of violence and failed to act to warn you or colleagues, or if a more senior qualified colleague or someone with training to deal with patients of this type should have been assigned to work with them, you could establish a breach of duty on the part of the employer and pursue a claim.

Secondly, if there is no way of establishing any breach of duty on the part of the employer, you could make a claim for criminal injuries compensation through the criminal injuries compensation authority (CICA) scheme for the victims of criminal assaults. To qualify for this statutory scheme, a claimant MUST have reported their attack to the Police and provided supporting statements if required to do so. The claimant must also have sought appropriate medical attention.

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I was assaulted at work by someone I was caring for. The assault happened twice, and the first time it busted my lip. During my time at this work place, proper procedures weren’t followed whilst I was looking after the service user. Staff members were routinely breaking all types of protocols. They seemed to get away with it as they’d been there for years and I was new. I think the accident could have been avoided had the proper protocols been followed.

This assault has affected me mentally, I was already suffering with acute depression and anxiety but I have now had to leave the job after the assault which has made things worse.

Am I able to claim?

Ian Morris

You may well be able to make a claim for personal injury compensation. Your belief that the incident could have been avoided if the employer had ensured that all staff followed correct procedure and practice protocols indicates that the employer may have been negligent. Our specialist Solicitors have successfully assisted numerous care and support staff injured as a result of employer negligence and a failure to follow the correct procedures and they will be able to consider your claim enquiry in detail before pursuing the matter for you on a No Win No Fee basis.

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I work in a dementia unit with some residents can be violent and aggressive, I was hit in the face by a resident causing a black eye, nose bleed and permanent eye damage, we have had no MVA training, could I claim please?

Ian Morris

All employers have a duty of care to ensure that their staff can work as safely as possible, with the risk of injuries at work minimised. Whether you work in a low risk job like an office or in a more high risk workplace like a construction site, all employers have the same obligations. The work that you do clearly carries inherent risks given the unpredictable nature of the residents who can be confused, aggressive and violent. With this in mind, the fact that your employer has not provided you with the appropriate training is a clear case of employer negligence and you can certainly make a claim with us.

We’ll help you on a No Win No Fee basis to recover compensation for your injury and any other costs and losses such as income or medical fees. Along with compensation for the more minor physical injuries, our specialist Solicitors would ensure that an appropriately qualified and acknowledged medical expert is instructed to provide a detailed report of the eye injury you sustained, if any treatments may improve this for you. They’ll also look at the impact on your mental health and psychological well-being (such as anxiety or a loss of confidence) caused by the attack and this will help our Solicitors to ensure that your settlement is maximised and that you are correctly compensated for the impact that such an injury will have on you.

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I was injured at work when a patient attacked. I’m an NHS employee. I tore my ACL, sprained my PCL, tore my miniscus and have lost cartilage in my knee. I was off for six months. I did receive pay while off. However my Orthopaedist said that even though I was showing signs of arthritis in the knee that was starting to cause an issue, this accident caused all cartilage to disappear. It speeded up the process by ten to fifteen years. I will now need a knee replacement that we are trying to hold off fifteen years. Also the NHS did not follow the phased work plan to return agreed upon. I have lost the ability to do things I enjoy and will effectively lose fifteen years of mobility. Can I seek compensation even though still employed? This incident was in March 2021. Thank you

Ian Morris

If you have not already started a claim for compensation, you can do so now. Personal Injury Compensation claimants have 3 years to pursue a claim, so your limitation period won’t expire until March 2024.

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I was assulted as a support worker by an electric wheelchair user who damaged my lower back, it was a deliberate act and Police were called. This person has a history of violence and it has all been documented no risk asessments were in place.

Ian Morris

Our specialist Solicitors will advise you as to your rights and options to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation.

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Hi I am a support worker and have been hit, kicked, punched, verbally abused, ended up with a swollen wrist and pain shooting up arm and neck. I didn’t seek medical advice I just took pain killers and put a support bandage on. This has been going on for six months, incident reports and abcd reports and witnesses reports have all been done but now can not be found. I’m a lone worker nights and get no support. Since this i got told by a manager that it’s a part of the job and maybe support worker job is not for me, it says user has challenging behaviours but no training was given until last week, where can I go from here? thank you

Ian Morris

Although the nature of the work you were undertaking does pose some risks to safety that are hard to mitigate (unpredictable and uncontrolled behaviours etc), the employer does have a duty of care to ensure that staff are afforded the appropriate training, assistance and guidance to ensure that they can work as safely as possible. In this case, you mention that you were not given the appropriate training until you had already been injured and you also mention a lack of support from the employer. As such, this matter certainly warrants further investigation and consideration by our specialist Solicitors. Our No Win No Fee service affords you the opportunity to make further enquiries without the worry of costs.

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I got injured at work about two years ago, the patient broke my finger nail and there was bleeding. Also the patient destroyed my laptop. Can I claim compensation for this?

Ian Morris

If the employer failed to ensure that they had done all that could reasonably be expected of them to reduce or prevent the risk of injury at work, you can pursue a claim for your injury and lost/damaged equipment on the basis of employer negligence.

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