Claim for Care Officer Assaulted at Work

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Our client, a night residential care officer, sustained an injury at work when she was assaulted at her workplace in October 2017.

Her union, Unison, referred her to Thompsons so our personal injury solicitors could pursue a compensation claim on her behalf.

The background

At the time of the incident that led to her head injury, our client was an employee at the Heathervale Young Person Centre, a residential care home for children and young people.

At 10:40pm, one of the residents, a heavy-set 15-year-old boy, was hurting a much smaller 12-year-old resident in the care home's living room. The younger child was clearly scared, so our client, worried for the younger child’s safety, tried to intervene.

After trying to gain entrance through the fire door, which was locked, our client went around to a second door. However, as she entered the room, the older child charged full speed at the door. He used the full force of his body to trap our client between the door and the doorframe. He continued to bang against the door as our client was stuck with her head and neck in the room and the rest of her body still in the hallway. The front left side of her face took the brunt of the impact, and the back of her head and neck hit the wooden door frame.

Once she had managed to free herself from the doorway, the older child broke part of the wooden doorframe off the wall and approached her with it, making several violent threats. Our client told him she was going to call the police, at which point he stopped pursuing her.

The consequences

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, our client phoned the police, who arrived and took statements. She then went to The Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, where the staff examined her and gave her an x-ray. They told her she had sustained a neck injury and discharged her so she could go home and rest.

The next morning, however, she realised that she could not move the left side of her face and was unable to speak properly. She called for an ambulance and was taken to a hospital in Kirkcaldy.

The physical trauma inflicted on our client during this distressing incident caused her several lasting issues. She experienced ongoing pain at the base of her skull and in her neck, and her left eye watered several times every day, which led to her attending appointments with a specialist eye doctor. Her head injury also caused her to feel fatigued.

As she had impaired sight following the accident, our client could not drive for six weeks and had to rely on her daughter and friends to look after her.

The settlement

Thompsons’ personal injury solicitors pursued compensation from our client’s employer for her PTSD, functional neurological disorder, and neck and back injury.

We intimated the workplace assault claim under common law with reference to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, the Workplace Directive, and the PPE Directive.

Before litigation had begun, the defender was willing to negotiate a settlement without admitting liability. Once we had initiated litigation against them, liability was denied.

The defender eventually made an offer of £80,000, which we considered a good outcome and our client was happy to accept.

The settlement was reached on 13 January 2022.

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