Claims for an assault at work

Introduction

Updated: October 8, 2018

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.

Find out how much you can claimUse our compensation calculator

Quittance have a team of specialist solicitors who focus solely on assault, bullying and stress in the workplace. 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 612 7456 and we will tell you where you stand.

Alternatively book your free online consultation here.

Do I have a claim for an assault at work?

If you were injured in an assault at work in the last three years and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.

Find out if you have a claimUse our online claim checker
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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,

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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.

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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
  • Police
  • Security guards
  • Carers, social and psychiatric workers
  • Nurses
  • Bus drivers, station attendants and other public transport staff
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Is your employer responsible

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Who pays the 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

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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 Lliability Tracing Office (ELTO).

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Does there have to be physical injury?

No. An assault may be a verbal attack such as sexist, homophobic or racist verbal abuse,

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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.

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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.
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How much can I claim for a workplace assault?

Compensation will be awarded for the following:

  • General damages which compensate the Claimant for the direct effects of the incident and can include:
    • Physical pain and suffering
    • Physical impairment
    • Physical disfigurement
    • Mental anguish
    • Loss of companionship
    • Lessened quality of life

The amount of compensation available for general damages is dependent on the type of the injury, the severity and any long lasting effects of the incident.

Special damages compensate a Claimant for expenses they may have incurred as a direct result of a Defendant's actions.

  • Special damages can include:
    • Loss of wages
    • Loss of earning capacity
    • Repair and replacement of damaged property
    • Loss of irreplaceable items
    • Medical expenses

These losses must be proven and all receipts should be retained as evidence.

The amount of compensation for special damages is often easier to calculate as an exact monetary worth for the item or loss will be conceivable.

For an estimate of how much you compensation yo could receive, try or Personal Injury Claims Calculator.

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Can I be fired for making a claim?

No. You cannot be sacked, disciplined, or discriminated by your employer in any way for making a an injury claim. To do so would constitute an offence and an employer could face prosecution.

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How much compensation can I claim for an assault at work?

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our personal injury compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.

Find out how much you can claimUse our compensation calculator
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Meet our team

The national panel of QLS solicitors handle all types of road accident claims, from fast track claims to life-changing injuries. Our solicitors are chosen for their specialist expertise and their winning track record.

Click here to meet more of the team.

Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
Rakhi Chauhan Road Accident Panel Solicitor
Shahida Chaudery Complex Injury Claims Panel Solicitor
Jenny Jones, Senior litigator

About the author

With over 20 years' experience in the law, Jenny has spent the last decade specialising in personal injury, with a particular focus on industrial disease cases.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert

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