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Social Services Data Breach Compensation Claims

By Daniel Archer. Last Updated 26th June 2024. This article is going to explain why you might need to make a social services data breach claim. In the past few years, the rules regarding the protection of personal data have changed because of the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR as it is more commonly referred to). This European legislation was enacted into British law by The Data Protection Act 2018.

The GDPR rules were designed to provide more control to individuals over who has access to their personal data, how it’s stored and who it is allowed to be shared with. In many cases, data is collected and processed by social services departments across the country without any issues. However, we’ll look at how mistakes could cause a data breach and why you might be allowed to claim data breach compensation.

If you’ve decided that you’d like to seek compensation for a social care data breach, then we could help you. Our specialist advisors provide a no-obligation assessment of any claim and can explain your legal options for free. If the claim appears to have good grounds, your case could be passed to one of our specialist solicitors. Should they accept your claim, it will be handled on a No Win No Fee basis.

If you’d like us to help you claim compensation for a social services data breach, please call our team on 0800 073 8804 today. To find out more about the claims process before speaking to us, please continue reading.

Social Services data breach claims guide

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Data Protection Laws And Social Work

The GDPR is an 88-page document containing rules on how and when personal information can be processed. Within the documentation, a number of roles are defined relating to data-handling. Some of the key roles include:

  • A data subject – this will probably be the service user in this instance.
  • The data controller – this is the organisation that determines the purposes for which, and the methods in which, personal data is processed.
  • The data processor – an organisation who processes information on behalf of the data controller.

Data processing is bound by several key principles including:

  • The data subject needs to be informed of the legitimate purpose behind their data being processed.
  • Processing should be lawful, fair and transparent to the data subject.
  • Data is only allowed to be stored for the period specified at the time of collection.
  • Any personal data which is processed should be kept up to date.
  • A minimum amount of data should be processed to complete the objectives specified.
  • Processing should be confidential and secure. That may mean data needs to be encrypted in some way.

The data controller needs to be able to demonstrate adherence to the principles outlined above and, if using an external data processor, they should ensure they are fully compliant.

If you believe you’ve been affected by a privacy violation and would like to find out if you’ll be able to claim compensation, please speak to an advisor today.

How Could A Social Services Data Breach Happen?

It’s common for people to think of data breaches being caused when a computer or network is hacked, or cybersecurity is bypassed in some way. While that could happen, the more likely cause of a data breach is human error which could include technological mistakes or relate to information held on pieces of paper.

When a data breach occurs, which leads to some form of harm, you may want to consider beginning a compensation claim against the social services department who was responsible.

Examples of social services data breaches that could occur include:

  • Where your data was given to another organisation who you hadn’t authorised to see it.
  • If a social worker loses their notes, diary or other documentation which contains personally identifiable details.
  • When an ex-employee still has a password to social services systems and views private information.
  • If the local authority’s computer systems are affected by malware, viruses or ransomware.
  • A member of staff viewing your records when they have no requirement to do so.

On occasions, social services might not become aware of the fact a data breach has happened. However, in cases where they find out about a breach, they are duty-bound to tell you, as well as the ICO, if there is a potential for the leak to cause you harm. They should let you know when it happened, how it occurred and what information was viewed.

We could help you claim if you’ve been affected by a social worker’s data protection breach so why not contact us today and let us know what happened?

Do I Need To Report A Social Services Data Breach?

In this section, we’re going to look at how you’d go about raising concerns about information handling practices within the social services department.

If you suspect that the local authority is not keeping your information secure, has old or inaccurate information about you, is retaining information longer than needed, has disclosed your personal information or is using your data in ways you’ve not approved, you could make an official complaint about your concerns.

In the first instance, you could write directly to the department involved and explain what concerns you have. You should provide reasons for your concerns and examples of things that you think were done incorrectly.

Advice from the ICO suggests that you should:

  • Raise a complaint quickly while the events are still fresh in everybody’s minds.
  • Ensure the complaint goes to the correct department.
  • Keep the language simple and write legibly.
  • Make sure you provide specific information.
  • Don’t make personal allegations and be reasonable.
  • Keep good records of what’s happened.
  • Include all of the information necessary.
  • After any ‘final’ response, make sure there are no other routes for escalating the complaint before approaching the ICO.

If you’ve exhausted all possible routes of complaining within social services, you could decide to take the matter to the ICO. They will review what’s happened and read the responses provided to your initial complaint.

If they think that there is an opportunity to improve information handling within the organisation, they may take action.

Can I Sue Social Services For Breaching My Data?

If you’re considering making a claim against social services, the process can become quite complex. As you’ve read in the previous section, there may be a number of escalation routes to follow if you’re not happy with the response you receive. Each of these steps will obviously take time and it’s only when it’s been 3-months since you last had meaningful contact with social services that you can escalate your complaint to the ICO.

However, what we’ve not explained so far is that even if the ICO agree with your complaint, they won’t issue you with compensation. All the ICO is able to do is publish its findings and fine the department where necessary.

The only way you’ll receive compensation is if you raise a case against the department in question yourself. Due to the complexity of this process, our advice would be to seek legal representation. A solicitor could negotiate on your behalf to try and reach a settlement for your claim without requiring ICO intervention. In other cases, they may advise taking the more formal route to help understand the full impact of what’s happened.

If you contact Legal Expert, an advisor will review your claim with you. If the claim is passed to one of our specialist solicitors, they’ll consider what attempts you’ve made to resolve the matter already and work out how to proceed with your claim. Please contact us today if you’d like free advice on your options.

How Much Compensation Could I Get For A Social Services Data Protection Breach?

Now we’ve answered the question, “What do you do if you are a victim of a data breach?”, it’s now time to take a look at what compensation can be claimed for and, in the next section, how much you might receive.

In most cases, the type of compensation your solicitor might request includes:

  • Material damage, which is where you’ve suffered some form of financial impact because of the data breach.
  • Non-material damage, which is where you’ve suffered from stress, anxiety or other psychological injuries because of the breach.

The list of different elements to a claim is quite long and what you can include will differ from others as each case is unique. If you ask Legal Expert to make your claim for you and it’s accepted, a solicitor will let you know what you can claim for once they’ve reviewed the impact of the data breach carefully.

To assess the psychological impact of a data breach, medical reports will need to be used to show how the anxiety, distress and confusion have impacted your daily life, job or education. Any problems with relationships caused by the breach will also be considered.

While it would be quite easy to define the value of any financial loss you’ve already sustained, your solicitor will also consider whether you’ll suffer further losses in the future. That could be the case if your details have been shared by cybercriminals online.

All of these considerations show just how tricky it can be to work out what compensation you’ll be able to claim for. That’s why we advise you to let one of our specialist solicitors handle all aspects of your claim for you. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss starting a claim today.

Can I Make A Data Breach Claim On A No Win No Fee Basis?

So, now you’ve read this guide about claiming for a social services data breach, what’s preventing you from starting a claim today? Well, for many people, there’s a big worry about how much the case will cost them. To remove a lot of that worry, our team of specialist solicitors offer to provide crucial access to justice on a No Win No Fee basis for any claims they accept.

In the first instance, your case will need to be reviewed to check that it’s viable. Once the solicitor agrees to proceed for you, they’ll prepare a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) for you to review and sign.

The CFA provides you with a lot of protection and many benefits, including:

  • You won’t need to pay any upfront fees which allows the case to start straight away.
  • There are no solicitor’s fees to cover while the claim is being processed.
  • In the event that the case is lost, all of your solicitor’s fees will be waived.

When a claim leads to a positive outcome, your solicitor will retain a small percentage of your compensation to cover their costs. This is known as a success fee. The fee is capped by law and listed in the CFA, so you’ll know exactly what you’ll pay from the start.

To enquire about your eligibility to claim using a No Win No Fee agreement, please speak to a member of our team today.

Claim Compensation With Our Specialist Data Breach Solicitors

If you’re looking for help and support with a social services data breach, we’re here for you.

Our team of specialist data breach solicitors have a fantastic track record in holding organisations like Social Services to account.

If you’d like us on your side, get in touch with us for free today.

Begin Your Claim

If you would like to begin a claim and want Legal Expert to work with you, here are our contact details:

  • Call an advisor on 0800 073 8804 to discuss your options.
  • Ask an online advisor to explain the claims process in our online chat channel.
  • Email a summary of your claim to info@legalexpert.co.uk.
  • Start an online claim to arrange a call back from an experienced advisor.

When you get in touch, your claim will be reviewed on a no-obligation basis and you’ll receive free legal advice. If there’s a chance of making a successful claim, you’ll be connected to one of our team of solicitors. Remember, any claim they take on will be handled on a No Win No Fee basis.

Extra Resources

Thanks for completing our guide to social services data breach claims. In our final section, we’ve provided some additional links to guides and external resources which we believe may be useful. Please feel free to contact us if there’s anything else you’d like to know.

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    • Patrick Mallon

      Patrick is a Grade A solicitor having qualified in 2005. He's an an expert in accident at work and public liability claims and is currently our head of the EL/PL department. Get in touch today for free to see how we can help you.

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