A woman who suffered an attack by a patient whilst working as a care assistant has succeeded in a claim against her previous employer in excess of £220,000 after a three and a half year legal battle.
During the summer of 2006, Mrs. B was walking along a corridor at the nursing home where she worked, when a male patient suddenly grabbed hold of her wrists and started to kick her. The patient kept hold of the young woman’s left wrist, twisting it before she (with the assistance of another member of staff) managed to free herself from his grip.
“This was a complex case” said Jeff Palmer, Partner of Croftons Solicitors LLP, who acted on behalf of Mrs B.
Jeff Palmer Partner Croftons TN
“After much debate on the issue of liability, judgement was finally entered in favour of our Client/the Claimant in June 2008.”
“Essentially, her employer was negligent because they failed to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of our Client as an employee. In particular, they failed to assess the risk posed by the patient, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, which sadly caused him to be violent towards members of staff at the residential home” he said.
“The matter was further complicated as although the Defendant admitted negligence and breach of statutory duty; they denied that her injuries were as a result of the accident. It was the Defendant’s case that our Client was suffering with nothing more than a trivial soft-tissue injury to her left wrist despite surgery being required and, indeed, their medical expert questioned whether she had suffered any injury at all as a result of the attack” he said.
“Unfortunately, as a result of the accident our Client suffered a major psychological and stress reaction. She was examined by a psychologist acting for both the Claimant and the Defendant and this aspect of the medical evidence was largely agreed.”
Mr. Palmer goes on to explain that “the Court gave permission for the Claimant to instruct a fresh orthopaedic expert, who having examined Mrs. B, diagnosed that she was suffering from a condition known as madelung deformity. This condition is rare congenital abnormality, affecting the female population and generally results in acute physical deformity of the wrists.”
“The Defendants medical expert expressed the opinion that all of the Claimant’s problems with her wrist could be put down to this condition and therefore the symptoms that she was experiencing were entirely unrelated to her accident” said Mr. Palmer. “However, our Client had been symptom free at the time of her assault and her medical records showed no suggestion of any madelung deformity symptoms in her left wrist prior to the accident”.
“A joint-statement was prepared following consultation between the Claimant’s instructed orthopaedic expert and the Defendant’s instructed orthopaedic expert. The Claimant contended for an acceleration of the Claimant’s symptoms, by a period of 20 years (i.e. had the attack not occurred, the Claimant would have been symptom-free for 20 years). However, the Defendant’s expert contended that the maximum period of acceleration was between 2 and 4 years.”
“In the meantime, to help Mrs. B manage the physical symptoms that she was experiencing, it was felt that she would benefit from a pain management programme. A report from an eminent consultant in pain medicine and anaesthesia was obtained that provided proposals for how best our Client could manage painful symptoms.”
“The effects and consequences of the injuries sustained by Mrs. B are to such an extent that she was, and is, unable to return to her pre-accident employment or indeed obtain alternative employment, which has resulted in a significant loss of earnings. She is also significantly disabled in terms of her daily living activities and largely dependent upon the care and assistance provided by her husband. The extent of her care has meant that a nursing care assessment report was necessary to deal with the issues of the cost of both past and future care that she would require” explained Mr Palmer.
Following lengthy negotiations, the parties agreed that it would be best to instruct a mediator to attempt to resolve the claim. This took place in early 2010 and settlement was negotiated for just over £220,000, reflecting the Claimant’s injuries and suffering as well as her substantial damages for past and future case and loss of future earnings.