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Injury Claims: What If You Are Assaulted By A Worker?

View profile for Kay Ditcham
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What if a person who assaults you is at work at the time? Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm's Personal Injury solicitors explain the legal process....

If someone is assaulted by another person in a private or public place, then it is likely that their only realistic remedy for recovering compensation for their injuries would be through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme which unfortunately is much more limited in scope than it was previously.

But what if the person who assaults you is at work at the time? Can you hold the employer liable for their conduct?

This will depend upon the circumstances of each individual case, but there have been a number of decisions made in the Courts over recent years in relation to such cases.

Historically the position was that the acts of the employee had to be sufficiently connected to his employment in order for the employer to be vicariously liable. This was demonstrated in the case of David Mattis –v- Flamingo’s Nightclub in 2003. Mr Mattis was visiting Flamingo’s Nightclub in London. He had become involved in an altercation outside of the club. One of the doormen left the club and went to his home and then armed himself with a knife. He returned and stabbed Mr Mattis causing very serious injuries to his spinal cord which left him paraplegic.

Mr Mattis sued the owner of the nightclub for his injuries. Initially the Court dismissed the claim, on the basis that by leaving the club and returning home, the doorman was no longer acting in the course of his employment. Mr Mattis appealed and the Court of Appeal found in his favour. The Court found that the stabbing was closely related to the job of a doorman within the Defendant’s nightclub and that, as his employer, the owner of the club was vicariously liable. (It was also noted that the doorman in question was not licensed by the local authority, which may have had some bearing upon the decision.)

A number of years later in 2014, a Mr Mohamud brought a claim against Morrisons. Mr Mohamud had been to a Morrisons petrol station in Birmingham. 

He was subjected to racist abuse, followed by a physical attack, from an employee at the petrol station. Mr Mohamud sued Morrisons for the attack and Morrisons denied liability on the basis that the employee was acting outside the course of his employment when he attacked Mr Mohamud. The Court dismissed Mr Mohamud’s claim, finding that there was not a sufficiently close connection between the assault and the job of sales assistant that the assailant was employed to do.

Mr Mohamud appealed, and the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal, agreeing with the decision of the lower court. Mr Mohamud then appealed to the House of Lords who found in his favour and held Morrisons liable to compensate him for his injuries.

More recently a Mr Bellman brought a claim against his employers for injuries he sustained when he was assaulted by their Managing Director. The incident occurred after a Christmas party, when some of the staff had gone to a local hotel to continue drinking. Initially the Court dismissed Mr Bellman’s claim on the basis that the incident occurred during a social event which was unrelated to the Managing Director’s employment. However, when Mr Bellman appealed the decision, the Court of Appeal found in his favour, placing some reliance upon the responsible position which the Managing Director held.

It seems that the Courts have over the last few years been willing to extend the circumstances in which an employer will be responsible for the acts of his employees. 

Should you find yourself in circumstances where you are a victim of assault, contact our specialist personal injury team who have vast experience of dealing with such claims across the North East.

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