Compensation for a Nurse Assaulted at Work by a Patient

I was told by my employer that it is not possible to claim compensation for a nurse assaulted at work by a patient as occasional assaults are to be expected in a mental health unit. Does this mean I cannot claim for my injuries?

Your employer may not believe compensation for a nurse assaulted at work by a patient can be claimed, but it is possible for nurses to claim personal injury compensation for assaults by patients at work. Whether you are entitled to make an injury claim for an assault on a nurse will depend on the actions taken by your employer to reduce the risk of an assault in the mental health unit where you worked.

In many cases health risks cannot be totally eliminated from the workplace, and assaults on nurses are a real danger when working with mentally unstable patients. Your employer may not have been able to totally eliminate the risk of an assault, but he or she does have a legal responsibility to limit opportunities for patients to assault the staff.

Control measures should have been in place in the mental health unit to allow you to call for assistance quickly. Panic buttons should have been installed and personal alarms given to staff if there was a serious risk of an assault (if you were in contact with patients with a history of violence for example).

If your employer failed to employ adequate control measures to either reduce the risk of attack or certainly to limit the severity of an assault, this would be considered to be a breach in a duty of care and negligence, and claims for assaults on nurses by patients would be possible.

Eligibility to claim compensation for a nurse assaulted at work by a patient can only be determined after an investigation has been conduced into the work environment and work procedures have been assessed. You should therefore contact a personal injury solicitor to first discuss the injuries you sustained and the circumstances of the assault, but you should then allow your solicitor to investigate your case to confirm if an injury claim for an assault on a nurse is possible under the circumstances.

Claims for assaults on nurses by patients must be supported by evidence of negligence or injury and of the assault. Since you sustained an injury in a mental health unit you will no doubt have been examined by a doctor after the attack, and any personal injuries sustained should therefore have been documented. Medical notes can be used as proof of injury when you make a claim. You should also have reported the attack in your employer’s accident book and, if you have not yet done so, you should make the report as soon as possible.

You should detail how the accident occurred, any members of staff present at the time, the injuries you sustained and details of the patient who attacked you. The accident book report can then be used as proof of the assault when you make a claim.

Staff members who witnessed the assault will be contacted by your solicitor and statements will be taken. Other evidence of employer negligence will also be collected, such as security camera data of the assault. Your solicitor will ensure that all available evidence is collected to ensure a strong claim can be made against your employer.



This is an Information site only – if you feel you have a potential claim, you should discuss your situation with a solicitor registered with the Law Society of Ireland.