Children’s Home Manager Gets Compensation after Assault at Work

Posted on: 7 mins read
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Jonathan Thursby

Associate Solicitor, Personal Injury Claims

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Being assaulted at work is a really hard and traumatising situation to be in. It can be tricky to know what to do when you've been assaulted at work, and the things haven't been put in place to stop this from happening. In this case, it might be worth seeing if you can claim compensation.

Working in volatile environments is difficult, but there are regulations and safeguarding in place to keep employers safe. When this doesn't happen, compensation is often owed to the victim who was assaulted, as we will see in the example below.

We helped a woman who was working at a children’s home claim compensation after she was assaulted at work and suffered long-term physical and mental injuries.

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Elisabeth's Story

Elisabeth was working as a manager at a children’s home run by Birmingham City Council when she was assaulted by someone with a history of violence.

She was beaten around the head, neck and face, and was left with bruising on her face, a black eye and soft tissue injuries to her neck and right shoulder.

This was clearly a very traumatising and terrifying thing to have to go through for Elisabeth, and one that could have been prevented with the right safeguarding in place. 

Elisabeth was understandably left quite shaken up by her experience, and she had to take painkillers to manage the physical pain.

But the painkillers didn’t clear up her symptoms, and after a few days, she returned to hospital for more checks. She was told she’s sustained a whiplash-type injury to her neck and shoulder blade and was prescribed stronger medication.

Elisabeth was also referred for physiotherapy, and eventually, her symptoms did start to improve.

 

 

It is clear that Elisabeth suffered a lot of physical damage and strain to her body as a result of the assault. For this reason, as well as the mental health struggles she dealt with due to the result, we strongly believed she was owed compensation, as the damage and problems she sustained due to the assault were clearly preventable, which makes what happened even more sad.

 

How the Assault Affected Her Life

Elisabeth’s injury had a big impact on her work and home life. For example:

  • She was off work for almost six months, and felt extremely anxious about going back to work
  • Elisabeth felt depressed after the assault, had difficulty sleeping and often experienced flashbacks
  • She couldn’t do many basic household tasks, and had to rely on her husband to do everything from cooking and cleaning to helping her get washed and dressed
  • Elisabeth couldn’t drive for about three months, and she now finds it hard to sit in one position, so avoids long-distance driving
  • During the weeks after the accident, Elisabeth didn’t want to go out, and turned down chances to go to the cinema, theatre and restaurants with friends and family
  • Elisabeth also used to enjoy going to concerts and dancing, but her injury means she’s now in pain the next day if she does this
  • The assault has affected Elisabeth’s confidence and she’s now quite wary of clients at work
  • Elisabeth had actually been head-butted by the same person a week earlier, and her nose was injured, but she never reported the incident.

This was one of several assaults she’d experienced at the children’s home, but she’d been encouraged by her employer not to press charges as they didn’t want to criminalise young people. This in itself is worrying, as it leads to a culture of silencing victims in that particular industry, and it explains why people are often afraid and daunted when it comes to speaking out about the assault they experienced at work.

Sometimes, it may feel like you’re taking on “the man” when you’re claiming for compensation from your employer, but often, you are entitled to it. With the help of a legal team, you’re able to fully equip yourself with the advice and legal know-how to claim compensation in the right ways, using your evidence and your experiences.

In this case, there was very much a case for compensation. Clearly, Elisabeth sustained some massive physical and mental damage due to the lack of safety precautions put in place to protect her as an employee in a difficult environment. The fact that she had to do physical rehabilitation and have Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) evidenced how bad the effects of the assault were.

 

 

In workplaces like Elisabeth’s, extra caution should be taken to ensure employees are kept safe when working with people who have a history of violence. In this case, Elisabeth’s assault was clear preventable, which is where we felt her case was so important, as she could clearly claim for compensation. 

 

What Did the Council Do Wrong?

We approached Birmingham City Council on her behalf, arguing that several mistakes led to Elisabeth being assaulted and suffering lasting injuries.

For instance, the council either knew or should’ve known about the person’s violent history and taken the necessary precautions.

But staff at the children’s home hadn’t been adequately trained in how to deal with violent people.

There also hadn’t been enough people at the premises to handle a violent person, and an adequate risk assessment to keep her safe while visiting the home wasn’t carried out.

All of the above are examples of how Birmingham City Council fell short of protecting Elisabeth in her job. The employer knew that she would be around violent people, and were unable to prevent one of these violent people from assaulting her. The fact that Elisabeth was assaulted multiple times since starting to work at Birmingham City Council is even more worrying.

Unfortunately, Elisabeth’s is not the only example of assault in a workplace where there are violent people. Often, there are too many stories we hear about people working with young people and in particular schools being punched, kicked, scratched and spat on without being able to report it or speak out about it.

When she came to us, Elisabeth was being very brave by speaking out and deciding to do something about what had happened to her, despite her employer’s attempts to tell her not to press charges. Elisabeth had been attacked, at the hands of her employer, and the attack was preventable – in our eyes, these were the clear facts of the case. We worked hard with Elisabeth to fully understand the severity of the assault and the long-lasting impacts it still continues to have on both her physical and mental health. This formed the basis of the claim we helped Elisabeth make to compensate her for the damage caused to her due to the failings of her employer.

Despite all this, the person who assaulted Elisabeth was allowed to be placed at the home.

The council acknowledged that Elisabeth had been attacked, but they insisted that adequate measures had been taken to keep her safe.

 

How We Helped

Our Personal Injury Lawyers obtained a witness statement from a colleague confirming what happened to Elisabeth, which said she didn’t have the experience or training to deal with a violent person.

We also arranged for Elisabeth to be assessed by independent medical experts, including a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, and a chartered psychologist who found that she was suffering from several psychological symptoms. This included shock, trauma, anxiety and difficulties adjusting to injury.

The next step was looking at the financial impact of her injury, as Elisabeth had been unable to work for several months, paid for specialist therapy and racked up travel and medication expenses.

With this evidence, we could accurately work out how much personal injury compensation Elisabeth should claim.

Our discussions with Elisabeth were a safe and judgement-free space. We offer unbiased and open advice, guiding our clients like Elisabeth through cases like these.

Cases like Elisabeth’s can be really traumatising for victims, which is why we approach these things with complete mindfulness and sensitivity. In addition, we always try and provide our clients with the right resources to help them emotionally and mentally, including suggesting support groups and organisations specialising in this specific type of trauma.

Even when we had the evidence in place, the council continued to deny fault and the case had to go to Court.

 

What was the Outcome?

Birmingham City Council was ordered to pay Elisabeth £8,000 in compensation. This would cover expenses such as the cost of her medication, travel costs when going to her medical appointments and the cost of therapy she had, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and pain management treatment.

Elisabeth is still working to regain her strength by going to the gym, but she doesn’t have the strength she once had and can’t do anything too physical as it affects her neck and right shoulder.

As with all the clients we work with, our goal is to make sure that people can get the right amount of compensation they need to be able to continue with their lives and make steps towards healing, which was even more so true in this case.

We wish Elisabeth well for the future.

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Jonathan Thursby

Associate Solicitor, Personal Injury Claims

Areas of Expertise:
Personal Injury

Jonathan is an Associate Solicitor in our Serious Injury department, specialising in Employers’ Liability (accidents at work) and Public Liability (accidents in a public place) cases.

He prides himself on being approachable and sensitive to the needs of his clients, and he is also practical with strong attention to detail.

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