Q&A - Can compensation be claimed for injuries sustained outside usual role of employment?

Q: My mother is a supervisor at a supermarket. A few weeks ago she was helping someone at the automatic check-out when she saw a man putting two bottles of whiskey straight into his bag without checking them through.

She went to confront the man but he knew she had seen him steal the bottles and immediately grabbed his bag and took off. She called to the security guy but he didn't appear to hear, so she chased after the man as he went outside. Unfortunately, as she ran round the corner she collided with a line of trolleys being pushed back to the trolley park and fractured her elbow in two places. Does she have a case for claiming compensation against the supermarket?

A:  Much will depend on what your mother had been trained and authorised to do. It is the responsibility of all employers to ensure that their employees are kept reasonably safe at work. That includes providing training about what they should and should not do in the specific role for which they were employed and also more general responsibilities in the store.

The key issue here is that in acting as she did your mother was acting in a role that was very closely connected with her employment. She was protecting the interests of her employment so it would be part of her general role if not specific job description.

If she is criticised for doing what she did or she wants to claim compensation for the injury she should assemble all records of her training and her job description and contract. She should write down a detailed account of what happened and take these details to see a reputable local solicitor who specialises in compensation claims who can assess whether there is a viable claim for compensation. 

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner and Complaints Handler

Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham

John Hulme

John Hulme


A Partner and Head of our Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team in Oswestry