I read that it is possible to make a claim for compensation for a nurse assaulted at work by a patient. I was assaulted by a patient at work and suffered a broken nose and fractured jaw and want to know how I can make a claim.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

It is true that a claim for compensation for a nurse assaulted at work by a patient is possible; however this is a particularly complicated area of personal injury law. The potential issue with a claim for an assault on a nurse is that often that the assault is made by a patient of diminished mental capacity, who may not be legally accountable for his actions. In addition to this, should it be possible for compensation for a nurse assaulted at work by a patient to be claimed against the assailant, he or she may be unlikely to have personal assets to pay an award of compensation or a suitable insurance policy which could cover the assailant´s liabilities.

Therefore, rather than attempting to file a claim for compensation for a nurse assaulted at work by a patient against the patient who committed the assault, claims for compensation can be made against an employer’s liability insurance policy – depending on the circumstances which led to the assault. If it can be established that your employer was negligent by his exposing you to the risk of injury, and his lack of attention to the health and safety of hospital staff resulted in your injury, you should be entitled to claim compensation for a nurse assaulted at work by a patient against the hospital which employs you.

It is an employer’s legal responsibility to ensure that the workplace is safe, and that all risks to employees are kept to the minimum possible level. Failure to properly assess the risks of an assault on staff and to take appropriate action to reduce that risk is grounds for claiming compensation for a nurse assault at work by a patient.

While it may not be possible to prevent patients from attempting an assault on a nurse, it is possible to reduce the chance of this happening and the severity of an attack. If the patient has a history of violence, or is considered to be unstable, you should not have been placed in a position where you were alone with the patient. The opportunity for an assault should have been restricted, and other members of staff should have been able to assist you quickly. Panic buttons should have been installed in all rooms and personal alarms should have been provided to all staff. If appropriate, security screens should have been in place to limit contact with potentially aggressive patients.

The exact circumstances which led to the assault will need to be considered and assessed by a personal injury solicitor before eligibility to claim compensation for a nurse assaulted at work by a patient can be confirmed. If your employer has failed in any of the above areas, and your safety at work has been compromised, you will be entitled to claim compensation for a nurse assaulted at work by a patient.