£2,400 compensation for assaulted care worker


A support worker employed by a Lancashire care home has won personal injury damages of £2,400 following an assault by a service user.

On 6 February 2010 the worker, who was employed by Lifeways Community Care, Leyland, was helping at a house shared by a number of Lifeways' service users, all of whom were male with violent tendencies and who, on that day, outnumbered members of staff.

When asked to get down from his bed for breakfast, 1 of the service users kicked the worker in her chest and spat at her. This caused the worker to suffer soft tissue injuries to her chest and pain in her neck from force of movement.

The incident was reported to the team leader, who instructed the worker to stay at the house and not leave to seek medical treatment. When the team leader arrived at the house the worker completed an incident report.

Despite the team leader's insistence that she remain, the pain of the worker's injuries prompted her to attend hospital. When she later returned to the house, the team leader would not allow her to go home.

On behalf of the worker, we alleged 11 breaches of Lifeways' statutory duties. These included failure to make a suitable assessment of risks to our client's health and safety at work; failure to provide adequate health and safety training, particularly in relation to restraint of service users; and failure to seek the assistance of psychiatric services. In all circumstances, the defendant exposed our client to a foreseeable risk of injury.

Liability for the incident was at first disputed by Lifeways, which suggested our client had been the author of her own misfortune and should have left the service user to "calm down".

However, we were successful in arguing that our client had not received the requisite training in respect of non-violent physical intervention, on which basis the defendant ultimately admitted liability and settled the case. The care worker was awarded compensation of £2,400.

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