Hostel worker's claim for workplace assault

Our client was employed as a concierge at the Perth & Kinross hostel when she was involved in an incident that led to her suffering a workplace injury.

In the early hours of 30 March 2013, a man, who had been admitted to the hostel since 22 March 2013, entered the premises. As it was late at night, the building was locked up and the vehicular gate at the front was closed, but the man proceeded to climb over the gate and started knocking on the front door, asking to be let in.

Despite telling him to that they could not let him in because of how late it was (which, as he'd already spent some time at the hospital, he should've known), he continued to try to get in, becoming more aggressive.

Eventually, after several attempts at trying to get in the building and being repeatedly informed he had to come back later, he managed to break a window and make his way into the staff corridor, heading for the reception area. It was now that our client and her colleague became aware that the man intended to attack them, and so they called the police. The attacker got hold of a fire extinguisher and smashed through the reception office window. Both our client and her colleague had to climb out the window to get outside and then climb over the vehicular gate (it would have taken too long to wait for it to open and then close again). At this point they could hear the attacker now trying to break through the internal security door. Our client hurt her back while climbing out the window. It's worth noting that the attacker should not have been able to break through the glass as easily as he did, because the window was meant to be made of safety glass. However, as glass had been changed (which our client was unaware of), the attacker could break through it easily.

They called the police a second time, who arrived and, after some time spent searching, found the attacker in another occupant's room – a girl whom he assaulted.

The Consequences

Because of the attack, our client sustained an injury to her back and suffered a generalised anxiety disorder as a result.

Her anxiety disorder has led her to suffer from severe insomnia and panic attacks. The impact the incident made on her mental state meant that her GP referred her to a psychiatrist.

The incident and its effect on her caused her to take voluntary redundancy, which meant she sustained a loss of pension and loss of earnings.

The Settlement

Our client instructed Thompsons work accident solicitors through her union, UNISON. We intimated a claim to the council.

The employer did not fulfil their obligations to their staff by not taking the necessary steps to keep them safe. At the time of the incident, the most recent risk assessment on the occupant didn't include anything about his violent nature.

However, a later risk assessment in 2014 noted a history of violence (specifically towards women), which, had this been known, the man would never have been admitted to the hostel. He had also been previously excluded from the hostel in 2005 and was banned from all hostels in the jurisdiction of Perth and Kinross Council in 2006.

Her employer had not included the information of the 2014 risk assessment in the earlier assessment even though they would have been aware of the man's history of violence at that time. By not including this important information and providing our client with the relevant risk assessment, they were putting all their staff in danger.

Unable to reach a settlement with the defender pre-litigation, we were required to litigate the case. Because our client didn't inform us of the impact on her earnings until very shortly before the proof hearing, we had to make a late minute of amendment to adjust the case. Unfortunately, this amendment was not accepted by the court.

At the pre-trial meeting, we managed to achieve a compensation amount of £12,000 for our client's workplace assault incident. However, this sum did not compensate for future loss of earnings or for future pension loss.

Our client's colleague who was involved in the attack also made a claim with Thompsons (see below).

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