Claims for an Assault at Work
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a work assault we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a work assault and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
In our guide to claiming
work assault compensation:
If you have been assaulted in the workplace you may be entitled to claim financial compensation. Whether the assault was committed by another employee, a client or even a visitor, if the employer was negligent in their duty of care then a claim may be possible.
The complexities of assault claims mean that most solicitors don't handle assault claims. For a free consultation with an expert call us on 0800 376 1001 and we will tell you where you stand.
Alternatively book your free online consultation here.
What constitutes an assault at work?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the government body responsible for overseeing health and safety in the workplace.
An assault or violence at work is defined by the HSE as 'Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.'
An assault does not necessarily have to be physical. An assault may also be a verbal attack such as sexist, homophobic or racist verbal abuse,
How common is workplace assault?
In the year 2015/16 there were approximately 350,000 workers who experienced one or more assaults at work. 158,000 of these we physical assaults at work and 210,000 were on the receiving end of threats or verbal abuse.
These figures suggest that nearly 1.4% of employees were victims of an assault. In fact the number is likely to be significantly higher as workplace assaults are typically underreported.
Who is most at risk?
People who work late and/or alone or people who work in the community, such as social workers or those working with mentally unstable patients, are particularly at risk. People who handle money (cash) or valuables are also common targets.
Quittance's solicitors routinely help people from all careers and levels of seniority, including:
- Building trades
- Prison officers
- Security guards
- Carers, social and psychiatric workers
- Bus drivers, station attendants and other public transport staff
Is my employer liable?
Sometimes it can be clear when an employer is directly responsible for an assault. Your employer may even have initiated the assault or been directly involved in it.
More commonly assaults are committed by another worker or visitor and the employer's responsibility is less obvious.
Employers have a 'duty of care' to provide a safe working environment for their employees. This means that all reasonable steps must be taken by the employer to ensure that the working environment is safe. This includes making best endeavours to reduce the risk of assault.
There are a number of work scenarios that are correlated with a higher incidence of assault.
For example if your employer puts you in a position where a lack of staffing levels places you in danger, the employer may be held accountable.
Insufficient training can also put employees at risk especially if the employee will be working with mentally unstable people or people with violent tendencies.
If your employer is aware of the violent tendencies of another worker or person you will, come into contact with, they must take steps to mitigate the risk. If they do not provide the necessary extra support, training and equipment to reduce this risk they may be liable for any assault.
What to do if your employer is responsible
If you think that your employer is liable for the accident, the first step is to get a professional opinion.
A Quittance work assault specialist solicitor will start with a no obligation consultation. During the consultation the solicitor will advise you as to whether you have a claim, how much compensation you could receive and how likely your case is to succeed. Consultations can be conducted over phone or by video call on Skype.
What to do if your employer is not responsible?
If you think that your employer is not responsible you should still speak to a solicitor in the first instance. Establishing liability for assaults at work can be complex and it may be that an employer is responsible despite you thinking otherwise.
A solicitor will listen to your account of the incident and advise you of the best course of action. If the solicitor thinks that the employer is not liable he will recommend contacting the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
Making a claim through the CICA
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is a government agency that has the authority to pay compensation to the innocent victims of crime England, Wales or Scotland. CICA is funded by public money. The agency pays out compensation claims regardless of whether the person who committed the crime is caught, prosecuted or convicted.
If you are the victim of an assault at work, you may be able to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, even if the offender is not convicted of the crime.
Who pays my compensation?
Sometimes people are reluctant to initiate a claim against their employer as they have a good working relationship with them - they may even be friends. It is an easier narrative to blame the individual assailant and overlook the nuances of the employer's failure on meeting their duty of care.
We often speak to employees who worry that their employer will not be able to afford to pay the compensation and the victim is consequently reluctant to make a claim.
Compensation settlements are almost always pad by the employers liability insurance, which they are obligated to have.
Further reading: https://www.quittance.co.uk/help-article/is-it-the-employer-that-pays-work-injury-compensation
What if the employer is no longer trading?
A common misconception about making any personal injury claim is that a claim is not possible if the employer has gone bankrupt or closed the business. In fact a claim is still possible as the employers liability insurance will still be in place. A claim can therefore be made against the insurance policy regardless of whether the company is still trading.
Solicitors are able to identify the relevant insurance policy through the Employers Liability Tracing Office (ELTO).
Does there have to be physical injury?
No. An assault may be a verbal attack such as sexist, homophobic or racist verbal abuse,
What if the assault happened off the premises?
If you are injured during work hours whilst carrying out your duties, your employer has a duty of care eve if you are offsite.
Employers liability insurance will provide cover for employees, whether injured on the employer's premises or offsite.
The first things to do if you are assaulted
If you are assaulted your priority should be removing yourself from any further danger and seeking medical attention if required. There are a number of other things you can do to put yourself in a more commanding position once the dust has settled. The following is a checklist of what to do if assaulted:
- Get out of harm's way - leave the room or even the premises and find someone you know and trust to talk to.
- Notify your employer - typically this will be your line manager of HR Officer. Tell them what happened, where you are and what you are doing e.g. seeking medical attention.
- If you are physically injured go immediately to A&E or your GP, as appropriate. Ask the doctor to provide you with a written record of your visit and their diagnosis of the injury.
- Write an account of what happened - do this while the incident is fresh in your mind. Include all of the details you can think of - you never know what might turn out to be relevant. Included details of what happened in the lead up to the assault.
- Make a list of any witnesses.
- Contact the police and complete a crime report. In many cases this may seem excessive. However if you intend to pursue compensation and it s not possible to prove that the employer is liable, you can still pursue your claim through the CICA. However the CICA will only consider claims where the incident was reported to the police as soon as possible after the incident.
No win, no fee, no risk
No Win, No Fee is an agreement with your solicitor (known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) that means that you can make a work assault claim with:
- no upfront legal fees
- no solicitor's fees payable if your claim is not successful
- a success fee payable only if your claim is successful
No Win, No Fee is the most common way to make a compensation claim.
No win, no fee guarantee
If you have been injured and someone else was to blame (even partially), our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of claiming compensation for your work assault injury. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim
What do I pay if I win my work assault claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my work assault claim?
If your work assault claim is not successful then you will not have to pay any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Work assault FAQ's
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?
You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.
However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.
How long do I have to make a work assault claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the work assault to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your work assault claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for a work assault after 3 years?
Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.
However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.
There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim work assault compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a work assault claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.