Can I claim injury or assault compensation as a support worker?

48 questions have been answered below, why not ask your own?

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.

48 questions have been answered below, why not ask your own?

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Questions & Answers


  1. Claire

    Hi there I work in a care home and care for people with learning disabilities, I was asked by my team leader to assist a service user which I did, but he attacked me and this was before I had completed my training.

    I have now been off work for 6 months as I have nerve damage in my neck which effects my whole left arm and hand. Everyday life can be a struggle some days and the simplest of tasks can be hard. Also after the incident, the parent of the individual who attacked me told me that he didn’t like people with blonde hair and this was not in his care plan.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      Given the incident you describe and the two key issues – that you had not been fully trained and that important safeguarding information was not included within the care plan – my view is that you have a valid claim that should be started as soon as possible.

      If you have not already got a Solicitor acting for you to recover compensation for your injuries and the loss of income, please call us on 01225430285 or use the ‘start your claim‘ form on our website so that we can help you.

      Reply
  2. Julie corr

    I’m an agency worker. I went to one place had hand over but did not mentioned he bites. I was bitten on my ring finger and little finger badly. When this happened she was laughing and saying he bit the other agency yesterday but did not tell me till it happened. To cut it short next day I went to hospital and ended up staying in for four days on iv drip and surgery as I was septic.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      It would appear that you have valid grounds to pursue a claim on the basis of inadequate handover and failure of the employer to provide necessary risk information to you.

      Reply
  3. Linda

    I work as support worker and fractured my ankle falling down steps at the front door when exiting the house, the steps were in a state of disrepair, can i claim compensation from my employer?

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      It may be possible to claim from the employer – if they knew that the steps were disrepaired and had failed to take any action. Alternatively, you could make a claim against the property owners.

      Reply
  4. Ben

    I was attacked by a student at my workplace, I was thrown to the ground and damaged my back and this student is known to be aggressive, however myself, who has no restraint training was placed to be alongside this student in lessons. Subsequently I was injured and I’m not sure if this is my fault.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      Your employer has been negligent in placing you in a position of risk, without having mitigated (so far as possible) the risks of injury – namely the failure to provide you with the appropriate and needed restraint training.

      We feel you have a valid claim for compensation and would like to help you. You can call us on 01225430285.

      Reply
  5. Susan wood

    I am a support worker at a mental health home. I was assaulted on the 16th october causing injury by a mental health client. I am still off sick due to myself suffering mental health problems. My manager has given me no support.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      If your employer has failed to ensure that all appropriate safeguards are in place to allow you to work as safely as possible, you could pursue a claim against them for the injuries (both physical and emotional) that you have sustained.

      Clearly, working with mental health patients does pose some risk and it is impossible for an employer to 100% guarantee safety, but they do have a duty of care to ensure that they have done all that they could be expected to to protect you and colleagues from injury. With this in mind, we would be keen to know more about the risk assessments in place for this individual, the care plan that they are covered by, what training you have had and whether the correct staffing levels and policies were in place at the time of the incident.

      Reply
  6. Amy

    I am a support worker and whilst on shift I slipped in the wet room at work injuring my back can i make a claim?

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      As the room is a wet room, it would be expected to be wet and potentially slippery. However, there may be a valid claim and we would like to speak with you to find out more about the wet room and whether the employer has taken appropriate steps to minimise the risk of injury within the wet room, such as whether there is non-slip flooring installed or if matting or signage is in situ?

      Reply
  7. richard

    i worked for a private company and i was stabbed in the side of my face by one of my client and at the moment my lawyers have requested the company insurance however i believe the company dont have insurance.
    i was stabbed with an 11 inch knife and punched 4 times by my client who i was supporting. i was working as an outreach mental health support worker. there was no risk assessment done on the client and no information disclosed. i am suing my company for negligence.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      As the employer had failed to carry out any risk assessment and you had not been properly made aware of the risks you faced in the work you were tasked with, you have every right to pursue a claim against the employer on the grounds of employer negligence.

      If the employer is found to have no insurance, you may still be able to pursue a claim against the company directly and your Solicitor should be able to advise you on that.

      You may also consider pursuing a claim via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) scheme if your claim against the employers becomes unviable. Again, speak with your Solicitor about this.

      Reply
  8. Cheryl

    I am a support worker. I received two workplace injuries at the same establishment, at different times. I was signed off with the first injury to receive physio until I was given the go ahead to go back to my job with a few stipulations. A risk assessment was put in place, detailing what I am not allowed to do and who I am not allowed to work with ie, agency staff, inexperienced staff, or pregnant women. I have, however, due to staff shortages, constantly having to break all of these rules. I have since received another injury because of having to work with an inexperienced member of staff. I need to know a) what kind of trouble, if any, I may get into should a person in my care get hurt whilst breaking these risk assessment rules, and b) can i ask for compensation for these injuries? Thank you

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      As to what kind of personal trouble you could face should someone in your care sustain injury due to employer negligence, that is a matter you must address with your regulator and relevant authorities.

      In terms of a claim for personal injury compensation, if you have suffered an injury due to the employer failing to work within the guidance set out in a risk assessment and therefore acted negligently towards your health and safety, you certainly have a right to make a claim for personal injury compensation.

      Reply
  9. Tammy

    I was assaulted by a patient I work with in a private mental health establishment. Whilst my injury was nothing major, (full on punch to the nose, swollen nose and upper lip, small bruising to nostril) it ruined my days off following the incident. I had a headache for the whole weekend, what can I do?

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      If your employer has provided the correct training, you are appropriately qualified and skilled to perform the work and the risks posed by this patient were something you had been made aware of/or a risk assessment had noted, there is very little that you can do.

      However, if the employer has failed to provide you with warning, training or the correct support to minimise the risk of injury, you could pursue a claim for the injuries and distress caused to you.

      Reply
  10. Bernie

    I have been working in a supported living unit this past three years and have found it too stressful so am now off work with work related stress/ chest pain, depression because one of the tenants have been threatening to kill both tenants and staff. Do I claim compensation? This job has completely ruined me. I have worked in a supported living unit 13 yrs previously and never ever was left to deal with a tenant with a mental illness. He should not be in a supported living unit. The tenant threatens to slice my throat, push me into his bed etc.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      If our expert in such matters was of the view that you have a valid claim for work related stress compensation, you could seriously consider pursuing your right and seeking damages for the situation in which your employer has placed you.

      Reply
  11. Kay

    Hi, I work in mental health and a patient has just tried to kill me by pushing me into oncoming traffic, what can I do as management appear to be playing it down? Also I was not allowed to incident report it as they insisted that they do it and that it would not be in the patient’s or my interest to report it to the police. I was inches away from the car.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      It may be wise to escalate this matter to the HSE in order that they can advise you as to whether or not there are further appropriate steps that your employer should take in protecting you from the risk of this happening again.

      Your employer should ensure that this incident is fully investigated and risk assessed.

      Reply
  12. Kelly

    I work as a support worker and was hit over the head by a resident. At the time I was offered to go home by the nurse in charge but as I felt ok apart from a sore neck decided to stay. Later on I my neck became worse but I also began to get shooting pains to the side of my head and began to go dizzy and blurry vision. I asked to go home so that I could visit the hospital but was told no due to low staffing numbers. Because of this an emergency ambulance took me to hospital where I was told I had mild concussion and a sprained neck. My work also docked my wages for leaving early. The following week my neck was still sore. It due to already loosing pay I had no choice but to attend work. Would I have a claim at all? Thanks

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      The scenario you describe is certainly something for which you can pursue a claim for compensation against your employer. Your claim will succeed if we can show that the employer hadn’t adequately risk assessed the resident that you were working with or advised you appropriately of the risks that they present. If you succeeded with your claim, you would also be able to recover any lost income relevant to this incident.

      Reply
  13. Margaret

    I am a supply teacher and three months ago I was given a day’s work as a TA at a Special School for children with autism. I was put into a class of eight severely autistic upper KS2 boys, with a teacher and two other TAs. I was told it was the most challenging class in school. I was physically attacked all day long ( the boys were hitting, punching, grabbing, nipping, hair pulling and kicking) as were the other members of staff. One of the attacks on me came from a boy who was sitting (lolling) behind me on a chair. Out of the blue, he kicked me with extreme force at the back of my neck/ top of my vertebrae. He was wearing big outdoor shoes. I was in shock as I had been taken by surprise and it was very painful. It was towards the end of the school day and a Friday. One of the TAs told me to fill in an incident form. I noticed that each of the members of staff in the classroom were filling them in too, for incidents that had taken place that day. Following procedure, I then had to take the form to the Deputy Head teacher, who asked how I was and checked me over. Not wanting to cause a fuss on my first ever day there, and not wanting to appear weak, I said I was ok even though I was in great pain. I had difficulty driving home and the next day my husband said I had a huge bruise on my neck. Ever since, I have experienced pain at the back of my neck and a permanent burning sensation and now have to apply a heat, anti inflammatory ointment to it. It has become so bad I have made an appointment to see my GP about it this week as I feel I need to have it checked to see what is causing me so much pain all these weeks later. Can you advise me where I go from here please? Should I contact my teachers’ union? I have had to reduce the number of days I work because of this injury. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      You can contact your union to speak with their legal representatives as you may well have a claim. Whilst you would expect us to say this, we would advise that you speak with an independent specialist personal injury expert (such as Direct2Compensation) to ensure that any claim you make is managed properly and pursued by specialist experts.

      Reply
  14. Aditi

    Hi I work in a school (pupil referral unit) and we share a building with another specialist provision. They left a wooden board behind our connecting doors and when I was leaving to go home the board had not been removed, I could not see it through the vision panel and it obstructed my exit and jolted my back as i crashed into the door. I’ve been off work three times due to back problems. I’ve got a pre existing back injury with severe sciatica and disc bulging and now my upper back is affected. It was always only lower back and legs.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      The incident you describe was caused by negligence in the leaving of the wooden board behind the connecting doors. As such, pursuing a claim should be a viable option. Hopefully you have recorded the incident and your injuries in an accident book or similar reporting system with your employer? Although you have pre-existing back issues, it would not prevent you from pursuing a claim for the new injuries sustained and any exacerbation of pre-existing symptoms.

      Reply
  15. thomas

    i was elbowed in september 2017 by a service user i was looking after that day, he just out of the blue elbowed me in the mouth loosening a front tooth which needed removing, also loosened most of my other upper teeth, the other teeth are now going to be extracted.
    i no longer work there i left almost immediately after only 3 weeks service.
    i did not wish to work with challenging clients and i had not had challenging behaviour training anyway so would not expect that behaviour. i found out afterwards that he was violent quite often so therefore ought to have been given the necessary training.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      You describe a possible episode of employer negligence in the lack of training you had received and no warning of the risk to your health and safety.

      We would be happy to further investigate this matter for you.

      Reply
  16. brian

    I am a prison officer in the course of my duties I was injured helping to restrain a prisoner who had become violent attacking other members of staff.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      Any employee who is injured in an accident at work has a legal right to make a claim for compensation if they believe that their employer has failed to uphold their obligations to Health & Safety and prevent an accident that would otherwise have been avoidable.

      Reply
  17. John

    I was not offered first aid after being assaulted at work, instead two hours later took myself to hospital for treatment where I got a stitch in my lip, do I have a claim?

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      The lack of first aid is bad practice, but not negligent and in and of itself, so not something you could claim for. You may however, have a claim for criminal injuries as a result of the assault – but only if the matter was reported to the Police and you then provided statements and full cooperation to the Police.

      Reply
  18. Emma

    I was involved in an accident at work last year. This involved me nearly drowning due to me working with a child with special needs who panicked and wrapped his arm around my neck. 4 people had to come in and remove his arm from around my neck. I had never worked with this boy before and feel that the risk assessment was not up to date and therefore I was put in a very difficult situation. This has caused me to has numerous medical appointments and i now suffer from anxiety and depression.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      If the risk assessment was not accurate and in date, your employer could be held liable. The issue you would have is proving causation – that is to prove that the anxiety and depression was 100% attributable to the incident at work.

      Reply
  19. Sam

    I am an additional learning support teaching assistant. I had my nose broken by one of the pupils. It was an accident. It was not an assault. However, I had to attend A&E that day and my employer docked my pay. My septum has now moved to the left and I can’t breathe through my right nostril. I was told by ENT that I can have an operation to put this right but I’m afraid to do this as they will dock my pay again. I already work 2 jobs I can’t afford to lose pay I’ve no fault of my own.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      If the injury was caused by nothing more than an unfortunate accident, there is very little you can do. However, it could be that the employer hasn’t conducted the correct risk assessments or that you were not made aware or trained properly in the risk that the child you were working with would present. If so, you may have grounds to make a claim for compensation.

      Reply
  20. Colette

    I was working as a support worker with a young adult (17 years old) with autism. He attacked me quite severely, leaving me with concussion, whiplash, head injuries etc. I attended Hospital but this incident has left me with anxiety, sleepless nights and I’m suffering from this trauma.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      Did your employer ensure that the risks posed by this particular person had been correctly assessed? The employer has a requirement to (so far as practially possible) risk assess such situations and also ensure that the appropriate training, equipment and support is in place to minimise the risks of injury or damage.

      In this case, you have clearly suffered a traumatic injury and the psychological trauma you cite is completely understandable. I would strongly recommend that you ensure that all of your phsyical and emotional injuries are noted and discussed with your Doctor and that a full report in to the incident is logged with your employers.

      We have certainly succeeded in assisting people in very similar circumstances in claiming compensation and you may well also qualify. Of course, it depends on what steps your employer had taken to make such incidents not happen but we would be very happy to help you pursue a claim in this circumstance.

      Reply
  21. Christina Shearer

    I suffered a shoulder injury at work. I’m a support worker, and the resident had a drop seizure and got hold of my arm, pulling my arm down and backwards while he fell down on my shoulder. After 7 months of physio, MRI and cortisone injections, I will be going for an operation to fix the rotator cuff tear. Do I stand a chance in claiming compensation and loss of income? As I will be off work for a while and I am a relief worker at the moment for the company, I was permanent when the injury happened.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      Whether or not you have a valid claim for work accident compensation will depend on what actions your employer took to minimise the risks to your health and safety at work from an incident such as that which damaged your shoulder. Clearly, working with vulnerable people in a residential setting does give some foreseeable risk to workers such as yourself. Whether a resident could have an episode of violence, or collapse due to a seizure the risk of injury to staff is clear. As such, your employer ought to have made sure that those of you on duty were adequately trained, supported and guided in safe working and given the right knowledge to minimise the risks of injury.

      Given the severity of your injury and that it has lasted 7 months, required physiotherapy, scans, steroid injections and now surgery with a possible long period of time where you will have to deal with a loss of wages after your accident at work, we think that you should let us put the details of your claim to our specialist Solicitors so that they can find out more about your work, what support you had before your accident and then advise you as to whether or not you should be further pursuing a no win no fee claim.

      Reply
  22. Catherine.

    I hurt my leg in work about 6 month’s ago turning one of my service users, am still in alot of pain with it now. But I didn’t report it to work at the time didn’t want to upset anyone or lose my job. Am struggling in my job now with this injury and been in and out the doctor’s ever since. Any advice please. Also they did know it was a struggle to turn the service user, which now takes 3 of us.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      The lack of an accident book entry may cause some issue in your claim, but it does not prevent you from pursuing a claim for accident at work compensation. I would imagine that given the repeated visits to your GP, your employer is aware of an injury and I would expect that you have discussed your pain with colleagues, so there could be a way of demonstrating that the employer was on notice of the injury there.

      Reply
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