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Support work plays a crucial role in society, giving guidance, supervision and companionship to those who need it most. But like many professions, it’s not without its risks.
Whether you support the elderly, families, children or vulnerable adults, and whether you’re used to working in care homes, community settings, residential settings or schools, you’ll know that things can sometimes go wrong.
The risk of injury to support workers means we get regular enquiries from people who work in the sector. Here, we’ll talk you through your rights, and explain when you might be entitled to make a claim.
Table of contents
In support work, what counts as an injury or assault?
Support work comes in many forms. It tends to be less physically hands-on than care work, but injuries can still be sustained in a whole range of different ways. 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.
But aren’t these risks just part of the job? Do I have a valid compensation claim?
Support work carries more risks than a standard office job, but that doesn’t mean injuries or assaults should be seen as a minor issue. 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 accidents also happen to support workers, just as they do to people in any other job. If, while engaged in support work, 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 on your rights to compensation.
What should I do if I’m assaulted or injured?
All injuries sustained, either in a regular workplace or while undertaking support work, should be reported to your employer at the earliest opportunity.
Premises such as schools and care homes 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.
Support 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?
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
Looking to make an injury or assault claim as a support worker? 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.