Public Liability Claims

Assaults, Security Personnel and Police

Assaults, Security Personnel and Police

Being assaulted by another person is a traumatic experience. Although assaults will usually result in the police prosecuting the offender, being compensated for the injury suffered usually requires a separate compensation claim to be brought by the victim. In some circumstances, such as being assaulted by a security guard or a police officer, it may be possible to seek compensation from the company or organisation that employs the perpetrator.

What should I do if I am assaulted? 

It is important that you do following at the time or after you  are injured:

  • focus on your injury

Seek first aid, if necessary: even a minor injury can become a lifelong condition without proper initial medical treatment.

Request for an ambulance to be called or attend an emergency department, if necessary.

At this stage, it is best to forget about any potential compensation claim you may have as a result your incident and concentrate on your health.

  • report your incident

You must report the assault to the Police, even if the perpetrator was a police officer. If the assault was perpetrated by a security guard or some other person who was working at the time, you must report the assault to their employer. Provide the police and organisation you are a reporting the assault to what led to the assault, how you were assaulted and what injuries have resulted.

Request that an “incident report” be completed and request a copy for your records. Request any photos or CCTV footage that may have captured the assault.

The question of who is to blame for the assault is best avoided at this stage. Even if you blame yourself, or if the person you report the incident to blames you for the incident, this does not mean that you do not have a claim for compensation.

  • take photos and video of the area of your incident and get details of any witnesses

Contemporaneous evidence of the site of the incident location and the circumstances that led to your injuries provide invaluable assistance to the preparation of a public liability compensation claim. You can never have too much evidence, and if ever in doubt it is better to take a photo or make a record of it.

 – Example

If you were assaulted outside a night club by a security guard, photos or video recreating what happened coupled with statements from witnesses about what they saw of the assault and any interactions they had with the security guard in question will help paint a picture of what led to the assault.

  • make your own record of the circumstances of your incident as well as of all your symptoms

It is important that you keep an up-to-date list of your all your symptoms, whether on paper, computer, or your smartphone.

Treatment providers do not often record all your symptoms and complaints and often concentrate on what is serious at the time. The passage of time can make what seemed like a minor injury in the initial post incident period a long-term, debilitating condition. If there is no record of such injury or associated symptoms in your treating clinical notes, it will be difficult to attribute this injury to the incident. In the alternative, you can record video footage of you discussing your symptoms.

  • go to your general practitioner or hospital

You may have already been to see your general practitioner or received hospital treatment, however, you need to listen to your body and attend on your general practitioner or hospital as many times as you think fit. This is important, as if, for example, you only sought medical treatment once, the defendant or insurer to your claim will argue that you do not suffer from any ongoing problems or disabilities, because if you did you would have sought frequent medical treatment.

When will Victoria Police or a security company be liable in negligence?

If a police officer or a security guard’s actions are considered to have been taken as part of or in the course of their employment, it is possible to argue that their employer is vicariously liable for their actions.

Whether or not an assault forms part of the perpetrator’s employment or outside the requirements of that employment can be a difficult question to answer. There is a fine line between, for example, a police officer using excessive force in apprehending someone (which is part of their employment duties) and the same police officer assaulting someone in a manner that falls outside the requirements of their employment, even if they are wearing a police uniform at the time of the assault.

CCTV footage, evidence from witnesses to the assault and medical evidence about the force applied to the victim to have caused the injury sustained are important in proving whether the employer of the perpetrator can be held vicariously liable for the assault.

If the assault had no connection to the perpetrator’s employment, a claim in negligence can still be brought against the perpetrator. A common problem with bringing such a claim is whether the perpetrator has the financial assets to pay the compensation they are ordered to pay. In such circumstances, a Victims of Crime Claim may be the best option for a victim to obtain financial assistance.

Contact us today, and start with a free consultation by “Make a Booking” to receive our preliminary expert advice.  

Key Contact .

Jonathan Coyle
Founding Partner
Laura Green
Special Counsel