Care worker assaulted by resident receives damages

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Care worker assaulted by resident receives damages

31st August 2011

A former care worker who was left traumatised after being attacked at work has been awarded more than £40,000 in compensation in an out of court settlement.

Vijay Mehan, a serious injuries and employers’ liability expert at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said his client, who is in her sixties, was working at a specialist care unit providing care for adults with learning and behavioural problems when she was attacked by one of the long-term residents, sustaining an acute injury to her chest.

“My client was attacked without provocation by a long-term resident who was known to be violent,” said Vijay, an associate with the firm. “After finishing her shift and signing her keys in, she was leaving the nurse’s office. Unbeknown to her, one of the residents in her care was waiting outside, and he shouted abuse and punched her in the chest.

“The force of the punch knocked my client backwards into the office,” said Vijay. “She landed on the floor on the opposite side of the room from the door and one of her colleagues who witnessed the assault immediately ran out for help. My client was heavily winded and feared for her life. She was in considerable pain and shock and she believed her heart was about to stop.”

After giving a statement to the police, the woman was told by ambulance crew to see her GP the following day and was taken home by her husband. When she saw her GP the next day, she was examined and sent to hospital for x-rays of her sternum and ribs.

“My client suffered an acute injury to her chest wall and experienced significant stabbing pains around her breastbone in the days and weeks following the incident,” said Vijay. “Although the x-ray results recorded no fractures or broken bones, a subsequent bone scan revealed her breastbone had been knocked out of alignment and she was referred for physiotherapy.”

The victim, who found it very difficult raising her right arm or lifting any kind of heavy items in the period following the incident, was off work for seven months. She subsequently resigned from her job after deciding she was no longer willing to place herself at further risk of violence.

Two years after the incident, she was still suffering with pain in her right shoulder and chest and was diagnosed with post-traumatic costochondritis, a condition involving sharp pain in the cartilage surrounding the breastbone and shoulder that is known to mimic the pain of a heart attack. In addition, she developed bursitis, also known as ‘frozen shoulder’ and became extremely wary of crowds as well as anyone approaching her.

“During her time as a care worker, my client had requested specialist training to deal with challenging or violent behaviour from residents,” said Vijay. “She had requested this training - which was never provided to her - after becoming aware of the violent tendencies of some of the residents and the fact that attacks and threats towards staff members were not uncommon.

“The man who attacked my client was well-known for his violent temperament and for threatening staff charged with his care,” added Vijay. “Had my client been provided with the training she had requested or had the man who attacked her been moved to a more secure unit earlier, she may have been spared her ordeal. Six years after the incident, my client continues to suffer discomfort whenever she breathes heavily, sneezes or coughs. She suffered considerable psychological trauma following the attack and it is hoped that she will now finally be able to put the event behind her.”

Vijay settled the claim on behalf of his client for £41,500 in July 2011.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of accidents in the workplace as well as considerable experience in helping those making applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.