Case Scenario: Case 5

A customer is attacked in a supermarket by one of the supermarket’s employees. Can the customer bring a successful claim for personal injuries?

This exact issue was considered by the Court of Appeal in the recent case of Ahmed Mohamud v Morrisons Supermarkets PLC (2014).

The Facts

The customer visited a Morrisons petrol station in Small Heath in Birmingham and asked Mr Khan, a Morrisons employee, if he was able to print off some documents from a USB stick for him. Mr Khan, followed the customer back to his car and made racist remarks to him. Mr Khan punched the customer twice to the head and kicked him. The attack was completely unprovoked.
As the customer was being assaulted, Mr Khan’s supervisor tried to stop the assault. Mr Khan’s supervisor had told Mr Khan prior to the assault not to follow the customer to his car.

Did Morrisons have to pay compensation?

The Court decided that Morrisons were not responsible for the assault. The Customer did not receive any compensation for his severe injuries.
The Court decided that Mr Khan had attacked the customer for reasons of his own and that assault was not linked in any way to what Mr Khan had been employed to do.
If you are the victim of an assault in similar circumstances, you may be able to claim for compensation for your injuries from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Please click the following link if you would like to read the complete case summary:
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2014/116.html

Case Scenario: Case 4

A local authority is considering taking a child into care. Mr B is a social worker sent to visit the child, who lives with her parents. The child’s mother, Ms W, is known to be violent and unpredictable, but Mr B is still sent alone.

During the visit, Ms W traps Mr B in the kitchen and threatens him with a kitchen knife. There is a scuffle and as he escapes, Mr B grabs the knife, which cuts his hand deeply. The Police are involved and Ms W is charged. Mr B is off work for six weeks with tendon damage to his hand. He can’t type and has trouble with other tasks that require manual dexterity. When he eventually returns to work, Mr B is shocked to find out a similar incident had happened only a few months before. We advise Mr B of his options and he asks us to sue his employer and to apply for a payment from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Case Scenario: Case 3

Yorkshire Booze is an independent off-licence employing four members of staff, including Mr S. Security in the shop is inadequate, even though it has been targeted by thieves and robbers numerous times in the last year.

In the most recent attack, Mr S is attacked with a baseball bat by a robber in a balaclava, who fractures his ribs and punctures a lung. The assailant is never caught and after a few weeks off sick (unpaid), Mr S is too afraid to return to work. He suffers recurrent nightmares, his relationship with his girlfriend breaks down and, still out of work, he moves back in with his parents. We can bring a personal injury claim against the company and we can bring a separate claim for compensation against the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which is funded by the government.

Case Scenario: Case 2

Mrs F is a healthcare support worker in a medium secure unit for a mental health trust. The trust hasn’t provided Mrs F with control and restraint training.

When the unit is understaffed, a service user who doesn’t want to be discharged deliberately throws a cup of boiling water over Mrs F, burning her neck and chest. Mrs F goes to hospital, but she ends up with permanent scarring. The incident has also caused Mrs F to have panic attacks and she is still off work six months after the assault took place. Her employer is supportive and Mrs F remains on full pay, but without Mrs F’s extra income from working overtime, her family struggles financially. Mrs F wants to know what her rights are, and contacts Assaulted at Work. We explain her options and she decides not to bring a claim against her employer or the service user, but to make an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Case Scenario: Case 1

Dominic is a 13-year old with a history of aggressive behaviour. He gets into a fight in the playground and a teacher intervenes. The teacher asks Mrs P, a classroom assistant, to escort Dominic to the head teacher’s office.

Dominic is agitated and uncooperative. He lashes out at Mrs P, kicking and biting. Mrs P sustains cuts and bruises severe enough to attend A & E. She needs a hepatitis B vaccine and is left with scars on her arms and legs. She returns to work after a couple of days but the school is unsympathetic – Mrs P is expected to continue to work with Dominic when he returns from exclusion and no additional support is put into place. Mrs P doesn’t want to press charges against Dominic or to sue him, but we can bring a claim on Mrs P’s behalf against the local authority as her employer, as well as making a Criminal Injuries claim.

Additional Typical Scenarios

  1. Nurses or healthcare assistants are assaulted by a patient because of staff shortages on the ward.
  2. A known aggressive patient is allowed to wander the corridors attacking staff randomly.
  3. Security personnel are injured when they restrain a dangerous patient.
  4. Failure to adequately risk-assess a patient leads to a violent assault on an unsuspecting member of staff.
  5. An unstable patient threatens to attack staff but his threats are not taken seriously until it is too late.
  6. Safety equipment, such as a panic alarm or radio, does not work and fail to prevent an attack.

In each of the above, the victim could make any or all of these three overlapping claims:

  • Civil personal injury claim against a Trust or employer
  • Civil claim against the assailant, if they have assets
  • Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (‘CICA’) claim

It is worth remembering that you cannot ‘double recover’ (get paid twice for the same injury), so if you are awarded a CICA payment and your civil claim succeeds too, the government can reclaim the CICA compensation. For more info, please contact us.

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