Case study of a care home assault claim we have recently won on a No Win, No Fee basis.
Our specialist abuse team were asked for help from a family in relation to an assault suffered by their mother. She was elderly and suffering from advanced dementia. Due to her age and ill health, she resided in a specialist care home.
In the early hours of the morning another resident entered the woman’s bedroom and committed a serious sexual assault. Based on the evidence available, it is believed she was raped. The male resident was discovered by staff at the home in her bed, naked from the waist down.
The Police were alerted and the male in question was changed with offences against our client. However, he lacked mental capacity himself and was given a conditional discharge on medical grounds. This was a disappointing outcome for the family in the circumstances and they wanted to know if they could bring a care home assault claim.
Our team identified two important considerations:
- Our client was very vulnerable; and
- There were concerns regarding the man’s inappropriate conduct prior to the incident in question.
Accordingly, we agreed to take on the case and bring a care home assault claim on a No Win, No fee basis. The claim was initially directed towards the care home itself on the basis they owed a duty to ensure she was kept reasonably safe and they had failed in their duty by allowing the assault to take place. Responsibility was denied on the basis they were not aware of the male resident’s previous history. The claim was therefore redirected to the local authority as they were aware of the risk posed by this man, but had failed to properly disclose the risk to the care home which led to the assault.
We obtained medical evidence on the impact of the assault on our client. This was very difficult to fully assess due to her vascular dementia. The family referred to some comments made by their mother after the assault which gave cause for concern and suggested there were ongoing issues related to the trauma of the assault. The medical expert agreed it was difficult to make a full assessment, but concluded on balance that she had suffered an ongoing post traumatic stress condition.
Following negotiations, we agreed a settlement of the care home assault claim for £17,500. The settlement was supported by the barrister and was subsequently approved by the Court. The claimant also recovered her legal costs.
Contributions to the settlement were made by both the care home and the local authority.
Following conclusion of the case the lead lawyer commented:
“Our client was elderly and vulnerable. She deserved to receive a high standard of care and to be treated with dignity. It is extremely sad that she should be let down in such a way at this stage in her life.”