A carer, who was assaulted by a patient at her workplace, suffered significant physical and psychological injuries from the violent nature of her attack. The psychological effects stopped her from working for some time. Fortunately, Truth Legal was able to recover £18,000, to compensate her for her losses and to help ease the financial pressures following on from her horrific ordeal.
Thrown around ‘like a rag-doll’
Gail*, our client, had just begun working at the care home a few weeks before the attack took place. She was engaged as a night shift support worker at the home, which cared for adults with severe mental health conditions.
One of the patients living at the home had been violent towards staff on numerous occasions in the past. This patient was a large man who was known to become very aggressive if triggered by certain circumstances. Recently, he had broken the wrist of a member of staff after becoming angry.
The events of the night in question are the stuff of nightmares.
Gail had just started her night shift and was looking after one of the patients in his bedroom. She had helped him to bed and, following the patient’s usual night-time routine, she was now sitting with him, waiting for him to go to sleep. As she was sitting there, someone suddenly grabbed her by the head with both hands. Her attacker pulled her around ‘like a rag-doll’, gripping tightly to her head and hair.
Gail screamed repeatedly as clumps of her hair were torn out by the root. At first she didn’t know who was attacking her, but she eventually became aware that it was the patient with a history of violent behaviour, who had come into the room without her knowledge.
The assault lasted for about 5 minutes. For Gail, it must have felt like an age.
At last, another member of staff heard her screams and came to find out what was happening. They managed to pull the patient away.
Gail suffered bruising around her head, scratches under her eyes, and soft-tissue injuries to her neck and right wrist. Understandably, she was badly traumatised by the assault.
How had this been allowed to happen?
When Gail questioned how this had happened, it emerged that the patient had been allowed to wander the care home freely and without any supervision, despite other staff being aware that events earlier that day had occurred to trigger his aggressive mood.
As to why it had taken so long for anyone to come and help her, Gail was later told that there had been no staff members anywhere near her at the time. The colleague who eventually arrived to help had been two floors away, and had initially thought the sound of Gail’s screams had been from a television.
Rightly, Gail knew that she shouldn’t have been put in this situation. Why had her employers not done more to keep her safe as she looked after the care home’s residents?
She instructed Truth Legal to help her claim compensation for the failings of her employer – failings which had led to her being assaulted without warning in her place of work.
How Truth Legal helped
Truth Legal’s expert personal injury lawyers quickly identified the ways in which Gail’s employers had failed in their duty of care towards her as one of their employees.
Her employers had:
- Been aware of the risks posed by the patient’s aggressive behaviour towards staff and failed to adequately assess and manage that risk.
- Failed to arrange adequate staffing numbers to protect employees working in these conditions. The patient who assaulted Gail had been unsupervised and there had been no staff anywhere near her when she was attacked.
- Failed to provide Gail with proper safety training for that environment, such as management of aggressive or violent behaviour training, or other training to restrain aggressive patients or to de-escalate dangerous situations.
Faced with the allegations that Truth Legal submitted, Gail’s employers admitted liability for her injuries straightaway.
What remained was to ensure that Gail was properly compensated for the damage and losses she had suffered. Her physical injuries all resolved over a period of roughly two months, but her psychological symptoms were more severe.
She suffered from anxiety, depressed mood, and fears of a similar incident happening again. All of which prevented her from returning to work for some time after the assault. As such, Gail lost a considerable amount of her earnings due to the attack’s longer-term effects.
Gail’s psychological symptoms lasted for about 9 months until a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, arranged via Truth Legal, had been completed.
Have you been assaulted at work?
If you have been attacked in your workplace, whether by a patient, customer, pupil or prisoner, you can find out more about making a personal injury claim on our Assaulted at Work page. Or if you would prefer to discuss your situation with us, you can get in contact in whichever way you feel most comfortable.
*All names have been changed to maintain the confidentiality of our client