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Security Guard left wheelchair bound after workplace assault in Victoria: Employer Proved to be Liable

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Please note that this post was written for Victorian audiences and the information within may not apply to other regions.

A security guard who has been confined to a wheelchair for eight years after an assault while working at a race day event has successfully proven his employer held responsibility for his injuries.

The accident and circumstances

The plaintiff was a 46-year-old security guard who had been hired for a gig at an annual race day in 2014, where he was assaulted by two drunk patrons.

A few hours into his shift, the client received a radio call for assistance after it was discovered a group of patrons had smuggled in an esky of alcohol to the event.

As the group of security officers prepared to evict the patrons, two of the patrons fled on foot. The plaintiff chased after them and was able to catch one of them.

He was in the process of subduing the patron with the assistance of a nearby police officer when the second patron spear-tackled the plaintiff from behind.

The plaintiff hit the ground head-first and lost consciousness. Later, he would collapse several times when he attempted to walk.

The plaintiff was left with significant neck pain, PTSD and a post-concussive syndrome (head injury causing ongoing issues) and lost his ability to walk as a result of his balance and function being affected, and he is now indefinitely wheelchair dependent.

Doctors and specialists gave him a poor prognosis and said because of his injuries and ill health, he is unlikely to ever be gainfully employed again and he was given a whole-person impairment rating of 41 per cent.

His injuries also require him to take a cocktail of medication to help with the ongoing pain and symptoms from the incident still to this day.

The plaintiff made a WorkCover claim because he can no longer work, partake in household chores or enjoy previous social activities like ten-pin bowling, darts, fishing, camping or “tinkering” on cars.

However, WorkCover argued that the employer was not liable for the actions of the patrons who directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

About the trial and the outcome

The main issue in dispute was whether the assault was foreseeable and whether the circumstances leading up to the assault could have been managed by the employer to prevent the injury.

Zaparas Lawyers Senior Associate Gabriella Boyd represented the now 54-year-old at trial in September.

The trial proceeded for three days in the County Court of Victoria before any settlement offer was made, continuing the trend of the preceding years of stubborn resistance from the defendant.

During the trial, it was submitted that it was reasonably foreseeable that the plaintiff could be injured as he chased after the two patrons who were trying to abscond.

Because the employer did not tell the plaintiff not to chase the patrons, did not call the plaintiff back, and did not tell the plaintiff to chase the patrons only for the purpose of determining where those patrons were going to go so they could later be apprehended, it was submitted that the employer had failed to adequately protect the plaintiff.

Ultimately, Gabriella was successful in reaching a private settlement for the plaintiff and he received significant compensation.

After eight years of battling and learning how to live with his new limitations because of the assault, this outcome provided the plaintiff with some much-needed closure.

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