Q&A Can I sue my employer after I was attacked at work by a patient?

Q:      I am employed as a Healthcare Assistant on a mental health ward. Three weeks ago, I was at work and had been instructed to constantly observe a patient. I asked the patient if he wanted something to drink and out of the blue, he punched me in the face. I suffered facial injuries and required dental treatment. After the incident it became clear that this patient suffered from hallucinations and was prone to become violent. I had not been warned of this, nor was this written in his care plan from last year. I am angry and I am out of pocket due to the dental treatment I needed. Can I claim compensation?

 A:       Despite the current pressures on the NHS, your employer has a duty of care to you and must take reasonable steps to prevent you from suffering harm whilst you are at work.

There are obvious measures that could have been taken to have avoided this incident. Your employer failed to warn you that the patient was prone to become violent, which meant that you were unaware of the risk of harm. Also, the care plan should have been comprehensive, clear and kept up to date. It might be that the patient’s care plan had not been updated to include his recent history of aggression.

These issues indicate that reasonable steps were not taken to keep you safe at work and therefore you should seek legal advice about making a claim. 

 Dental treatment can be very expensive. If you decide to go ahead with a claim it would be important for your solicitor to obtain an opinion from a dental specialist to say what future dental treatment you may need because of this incident, as the cost of this should be included in your claim.

This question has been answered by Claire Parfitt, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194 

Claire Parfitt

Claire Parfitt

Solicitor

Solicitor within our Civil Litigation team in Wrexham and Oswestry

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner and Complaints Handler

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