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

34 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.

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

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Questions & Answers

  1. Ellen

    Support worker aged 64 reports for duty at 2pm. Feeling unwell with pins n needles going from shoulder down left arm into hand tells line manager who asks what he has been doing prior to coming to work. SW says moving furniture at home n says maybe I have trapped nerve.LM says probably trapped nerve. SW gies on duty for early shift straight onto sleep over to early shift conyinuing yo feel ssmr symptoms. New Lm comes on duty at 2pm and SW trlls her same info. Not one thing recorded. Updjot SW contactd GP once home, gets bloods done, receives phone call to say he has hsd hesrt attack n get to hospital immediately. Has this employer ailed in duty of care to SW:
    1. Not insisting SW does not work shift of late, sleepover early ,(lonecworking)
    2. Does not offer assistsnce in terms of calling NHS for advice re SW symptoms
    3. Does not record incident

    Thank you.

    • Ian Morris

      The line manager is not a doctor and would not be expected to draw a link between pins and needles and a serious condition like a heart attack. Whilst in hindsight, the line manager could have suggested seeking medical attention, that does not indicate that there is a claim to be pursued for negligence in this matter.

  2. 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

    • 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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?

    • 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?

      Please call us on 01225430285 or ask us to call you so that we can look further in to this potential claim for you.

  5. 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

    • 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.

  6. 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

    • 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.

  7. 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?

    • 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.

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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.

    • 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.

  10. Sandra

    I work with a challenging behaviour and with brain injury too. Am a support worker, I work 12 hours shift 4 times a week. Recently found out am pregnant, and am concerned about the stress the client can put me through.

    • Ian Morris

      The worries you have are reasonable concerns and your employer does have an obligation to your health and safety at work – regardless as to whether or not you are pregnant.

      In your case, the most important thing you can do at this stage is to ensure that your employer is fully aware of your concerns. You must therefore put the worries you have in writing and ask your employer for their thoughts. It could well be that you can avoid any further worries if the employer can re-assign you or provide you with additional help and support.

    • Lauren

      Hi I’ve worked with my current employer for 7 months now recently I had to ask for 2 weeks half days (unpaid) to accommodate me picking up my children from school as my mum had just had an op. They gave me this which was fine but they stated this would be for the 2 weeks only and I was to return to my full time hours after which I did however since then my colleagues have all made me feel uncomfortable since being there some of them are even ignoring me when I speak to them or ask them any work related questions which has added to my stress/depression both my boss and his wife have separately made comments to me and have asked how I could afford a holiday which I felt was very rude I feel like this was asked because I’m a single parent as they would never of asked anybody else in the office. I feel like this comment is up there with racism etc as it made me feel ashamed to be a single mum I just feel like I am being made to feel uncomfortable in the hope that I leave myself now I have got a sick note for 2 weeks due to stress but do I have any rights to make a claim against them?

      • Ian Morris

        Before you can make a claim, you need to ensure that your employer is fully aware of your stress issues and the reasons and this must be done in writing. This puts your employer on notice of the worries/concerns you have and affords them an opportunity to resolve matters.

  11. 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.

    • 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.

  12. Jayne Brennock

    I was assaulted at work by a resident in the residential children’s home I worked at as a relief support worker.
    I sustained a head injury which required hospital treatment with the injury needing “glueing”.

    • Ian Morris

      You could seek to make a claim for compensation if your employer has been negligent and lead to your injury. If your injury could have been avoided by better training, or risk assessments by the employer you could have a valid claim for workplace injury compensation. Why not contact us so that we can discuss this with you and explain your rights after an accident at work?

  13. 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.

    • 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, steriod 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.

  14. emran ali

    I’m a mental health support worker. I was beat up by a patient who was being specialised on the general side of the hospital, with no extra staff or alarms.

    The psychiatric doctor explained that it wasn’t a mental health issue and it was behavioural. I’ve been off work for a month now. I’m going for an x-ray for my finger which he stamped on.

    He was known to be violent through risk assessment but was still only managed by one person. When really it should of been at least 2 with alarms.

    What can I do. I would only go back into work with the same conditions. Making it quite difficult to enjoy my job with the anxiety and fear that nothing will change.

    • Ian Morris


      Thank you for discussing your situation with us. I am really sorry to hear about your problem, not only have you been injured at work, but you’ve been injured in a very traumatic way and this can only make things seem even worse.

      You ask what can you do and I hope that I can offer a couple of solutions. Firstly, you should discuss your anxiety concerns with your GP and ask that he sign you off work for a while longer in order that you can process what happened. No doubt in time, you will be able to put it to one side. You should also ensure that your employers are aware of your worries and you could request that they provide you with some counselling therapy. I realise that this may sound drastic, but evidence shows that by having qualified counselling, people can move on from trauma much more easily and you can learn techniques to cope with stress and worry.

      Finally, I would suggest that you pursue a claim for personal injury compensation. If what you say is right, in that your employers knew that this patient was known violent risk, then it seems that your employers have failed in their duty to ensure that your working environment is as safe as possible. I note that you have sent in a contact form via our website, so we’ll be in touch with you and get you in touch with a specialist solicitor so that you can get some further advice and better understand your rights.

      Yours sincerely

      Ian Morris

Direct2Compensation Personal Injury Claims

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