Thompsons Work Accident Case Studies

Support worker suffers slip injury – September 2017

In this case, our client, who was a support worker at the Riddrie Day Centre and employed by the Glasgow City Council, was involved in a workplace accident on 6 January 2016.

The Centre cares for adults with incapacity and complex needs. On the day of her accident, our client and a colleague were assisting a service user with their personal care, helping them change. She was working in a particular type of room, Argo Room 1, which has a bed with a sluice and a drain underneath, as well as an integral shower. If the showers were used, the water would have to be mopped to go down the drain. On this occasion, our client had not used the shower.

After she had finished assisting the service user, she walked past the bed to put something in the bin. As she did so, she slipped on a spillage. To stop her fall, she grabbed the bed railing, but she still twisted her left knee.

The consequences

Our client's knee was checked over by a physiotherapist on site. As she was unable to continue working, she returned home. Her knee was still painful the next day, so she visited a hospital, where she was told she had ligament damage. She was given a support bandage, crutches, and painkillers. She was also offered advice on suitable exercises to help with rehabilitation.

She also visited her GP, who advised her to have physiotherapy sessions. She obtained a physiotherapy referral through her occupational health service for a small number of sessions, but found that these did not help her too much, as she still struggled with knee pain. She was absent from work from the date of the accident until March 2016, at which time she returned to work on light duties. She didn't sustain any loss of earnings during this time.

The knee injury affected our client's life in several ways; she needed help from her partner with shopping and housework, and she was also unable to walk her dog. What's more, our client had enjoyed several active hobbies, including running and high impact fitness classes. She was forced to take a break from these during her recovery period.

The workplace slip accident also happened just a couple of weeks before our client's 40th birthday. She and her partner had planned to go away but were unable to because of the knee injury.

Overall, our client's knee injury took six months to settle (heal).

The settlement

Because no water had been used by our client or her colleague during the care of the service user on the day of the accident, our client was sure that she hadn't caused the spillage. She also believed that no other employee had been using the shower before she worked in the room. The spillage is believed to have come from the toilet/sluice unit in the room.

Our client was able to instruct Thompsons Solicitors through her union, USDAW.

As our client was not at fault, we were confident of her chances of success and took on her case. We intimated a claim to her employer, making reference to the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Although the defender did not admit liability, our work accident solicitors were able to settle the case pre-litigation for a sum of £2,950.

 

Planning office manager's back and neck injury – September 2017

Our client suffered an accident at work in May 2014 while working as a planning office manager for the Highland Council.

On the day of the accident, our client had been tasked with moving archive documents into boxes ready for removal men. This required significant heavy manual lifting over a two-day period. Our client moved approximately 250 archive boxes full of documents and stacked them on top of each other. It should be noted that this was not our client's typical work; his usual duties were administrative and sedentary. Furthermore, he received no manual handling training prior to carrying out the task, nor was the activity risk assessed.

As a result of this work, our client sustained an injury to his neck and back, with the pain also spreading to his left arm and leg.

The consequences

Our client attended appointments with his GP and at the hospital, where it was found that he had suffered a disc prolapse in his neck and lower back. He required surgery on his back as well as physiotherapy treatment to help settle his symptoms, at the time of settlement he was still experiencing ongoing pain and discomfort in his neck and back as well as tingling in his left arm.

While medical evidence suggested that the problems with his back were primarily degenerative, it was stated that the manual handling work he had completed was responsible for accelerating his symptoms by approximately 18 months.

He was absent from work following his injury, and, after two years, when it became clear that there was no realistic prospect for him to return, he was voluntarily released from his employment.

His continued absence meant he lost out on wages, and he also incurred extra expenses, paying for his own pain relief medication and travelling to and from medical appointments. He had trouble completing household tasks without assistance; his wife had to help him with household chores, DIY, and driving.

The settlement

The planning office manager was referred to Thompsons Solicitors by his union, UNISON.

The employer had failed in their duty of care to our client by failing to carry out a risk assessment on a task where an injury was foreseeable. Further, they did not provide our client with suitable training; they had failed in their duties under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.

Despite this, the defender did not admit liability, so we decided to raise the case at the All Scotland Personal Injury Court. Our work accident solicitors were eventually able to negotiate an offer of £18,000 compensation for our client's suffering. This settlement was reached on 4 September 2017.

 

Tesco worker's shoulder injury – September 2017

On 24 July 2016, Gavin Perrie, who was employed as a general assistant at Tesco, was injured in his workplace. At the time of the accident Mr Perrie worked in the fresh department, where it was his job to bring in deliveries, stack shelves, and serve customers.

Mr Perrie had been working in the back of the store, getting stock out of the cold foods chiller unit. The handle of the chiller was broken. It had been broken for some time, and our client had reported it to management. Our client had been instructed to open the door with his shoulder until the handle was fixed, so he had been using his shoulder to open the door, but on 24 July he felt a pain in his shoulder as a result.

The Consequences

Opening the door in an unsafe way meant Mr Perrie sustained a soft tissue injury to his shoulder. Our solicitors instructed a medical report from a consultant orthopaedic surgeon to confirm the extent of the injury. The report allowed for a three month period of recovery. During this time, our client didn't need to take any time off work.

The Settlement

Mr Perrie believed his employer to be liable for the accident. The handle of the chiller unit should have been repaired as soon as reasonably possible following the first report of damage rather than instructing employees to open the unit in an unsafe way, which put them at risk.

Confident of Mr Perrie's chances of success, we proceeded to intimate a claim to his employer. Tesco responded with an offer of £1,250 in full and final settlement, However, this was before we instructed the medical report. After the medical evidence was presented to Tesco, an increased offer of £3,265 was put forward. We discussed this amount with our client, and he confirmed he wished to accept the offer. His case was settled on 5 September 2017.

 

Worker injured because of damaged workplace – August 2017

On 26 November 2016, our client, Mr Leslie Gow was involved in a workplace accident during the course of his employment as a metal caster.

Our client's role required him to cast aluminium into large blocks so the material could be sent out of the plant for delivery.

The accident happened after our client had finished working in the casting plant, while he was tidying up in the yard. The cleaning process involved him operating a road sweeper, a one-seat vehicle with two wheels at the front and one at the back. After cleaning, he drove to an outbuilding to empty the road sweeper and then proceeded to carry out a cleaning check around the yard. The yard was not a well-lit area, and our client was unable to see a pothole on the ground. When the back wheel of the sweeper fell into the pothole, Mr Gow was launched from his seat, even though he was wearing a seatbelt, and hit his head on the air conditioning unit on the roof of the cab.

The consequences

His head was immediately sore, and blood was running down either side of his face. He informed his team leader, a qualified first-aider, who provided him with treatment. After his wound was cleaned, our client was still in significant pain and was very dizzy, but as his team leader did not seem to think a hospital visit was necessary, he chose not to seek further treatment.

The laceration to Mr Gow's head took approximately ten days to heal, leaving him with two small scars. Luckily his injury did not affect his ability to complete household tasks, nor did he need to take any time off work, but because he had suffered a workplace injury through no fault of his own, he decided to pursue a compensation claim with Thompsons.

The settlement

The reason for our client's accident was because the yard was not in a proper state of repair. Although the pothole has been filled since the accident, it was unfortunately too late to ensure the safety of all employees at the plant.

Mr Gow made a claim with the help of his union, Unite. When Thompsons' work accident solicitors intimated a claim to his employers, they admitted liability.

To provide us with stronger evidence of our client's injuries, we arranged for the metal worker to be examined by a consultant in emergency medicine. The medical report confirmed that he'd sustained a blunt head injury and a laceration to his head, allowing for a three-month period of recovery.

We sent this medical report to the defender, and they responded with an offer of £2,000. After we discussed this offer with our client, he decided it was fair and agreed to accept on 29 August 2017.

 

Admin clerk suffers sprained ankle because of wet floor – August 2017

Our client, Tracy Paton, worked as an admin clerk at Tesco. On 2 February 2016, she was involved in a workplace accident that caused her an ankle injury and left her seeking compensation.

Mrs Paton worked in the offices in the back of the store, but she often had to walk through to the front of the supermarket. To do so, she had to travel along a narrow corridor.

On the day of her accident, our client had to go out of her office to check for missing labels in the store. An employee from Servest, a cleaning service, had been mopping the floor of the narrow corridor. As Mrs Paton walked out, she slipped and fell on the wet floor.

The Consequences

Our client felt immediate, severe pain in her ankle. A colleague came through with a wheelchair and managed to get her in a car. The colleague then drove Mrs Paton to the hospital, where a nurse performed an x-ray of her ankle. The x-ray confirmed she had suffered an acute ankle sprain.

The pain remained intense in the days following the accident. She sustained her injury on a Tuesday and didn't return to work for the remainder of the week. During her recovery period she had to wear an ankle support bandage. She also self-referred herself to physiotherapy.

Her ankle was very swollen at first and remained painful for the following weeks. Furthermore, Mrs Paton had also previously suffered from a bad back, which had recently improved following treatment. However, her sprained ankle injury seemed to worsen the pain in her back again.

Mrs Paton required more help than usual around the house from her husband and son with tasks such as washing dishes and cooking dinners. She relied on them to do all the driving, as her injury meant she was unfit to drive for a week.

Mrs Paton's mother had also suffered an ankle injury, and so our client had been helping her around the house. Unfortunately, her own injury made this far more difficult. She lost out on three hours of overtime but didn't sustain any more loss of earnings.

The Settlement

Mrs Paton was a member of USDAW, and so was able to instruct Thompsons' work accident solicitors through this union. Her employers admitted liability after we intimated the slip injury claim to them.

The incident could have easily been avoided had Mrs Paton's employers ensured a few simple safety procedures. If the cleaner were to mop one part of the floor, section it off, and then work on another area while the first section dried, this would be a lot safer than just mopping the whole floor at once. The cleaner could have had another person helping them dry the floor, but instead they worked alone. They were also mopping the floor in the early morning just before the store opened, which is usually when the corridor is very busy – they could have chosen a much safer time of day. When she slipped, our client didn't remember seeing any wet floor signs. Employees were provided with slip and trip training, but this didn't cover how to walk on a wet floor.

What's more, Mrs Paton had been involved in a similar accident before and made a successful claim with Thompsons. The same system was in place at this time. Evidently, no lessons had been learnt from this initial incident and the risk remained in the workplace. The case was based on common law and vicarious liability.

Our work accident solicitors settled the case pre-litigation after having to make several counter offers. This was because we felt the defender's initial offer was too low, so, after discussing the sum with our client, we rejected it. We were eventually able to reach a settlement of £7,500, which was £1,500 more than the original offer, for our client's workplace slip accident due to a slippery floor surface.

 

Tesco employee's slip on ice – August 2017

At the time of his accident in the workplace, our client was working as a general assistant at Tesco Stores Limited.

On the day in question, he was working in the store's freezer room. He was attempting to move a roll cage that was full of boxes of ice.

However, the wheels had become stuck because ice had built up around them. The roll cage was placed directly under a fan used to keep the freezer cold. Because of a fault, the fan had dripped water on to the floor, which then froze around the wheel.

Our client continued to pull at the cage, trying to get it to move. As he tried applying more force, his foot slipped forward on the icy floor, causing him to fall backwards. As he fell, several boxes of ice, each weighing about 15kg, fell from the cage and on to his chest and rib area, winding him.

The Consequences

Our client returned to work and finished his shift. He informed his store manager of the accident but did not complete an accident report at this time. When he returned to complete a shift two days later, he still had quite severe pain in his chest and so completed an accident report. A few days later, the pain had become so bad that he could hardly move. He therefore made a hospital visit to have his chest and ribs examined. Medical staff there informed him that he might have suffered bruising and fractured his ribs.

Overall, our client's injury caused him to be absent from work for a period of six weeks. During this time, he sustained a loss of earnings of £151.76.

The Settlement

Our client instructed our work accident solicitors through his union, Usdaw, and we proceeded to intimate a claim to his employers.

His employer was deemed liable because it had not maintained a safe working environment, in doing so creating a slipping hazard that could have easily been avoided had a few appropriate measures been put in place. Our client and his colleagues were not provided with any equipment to remove the build-up of ice, nor were they instructed to do so.

However, the defender denied liability, holding the point of view that our client was fully trained to do his job and that there was an effective cleaning and maintenance system in place. They also had safety documentation confirming there was no build-up of ice on the floor on the day of the accident.

Due to the defender's denial of liability, our work accident solicitors started to gather evidence that would help with the case. We obtained witness statements from our client's colleagues, who all confirmed there was a build-up of ice due to a fault with the freezer's fan. They also confirmed for us that a build-up of ice around the wheels of the cage was a common occurrence.

Based on this evidence, we remained confident that our client's employer had been negligent and so proceeded to raise an action in the All Scotland Personal Injury Court. We also had our client examined by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, who confirmed he'd sustained a soft tissue injury to his chest and rib area, allowing for a three-month period of recovery.

When we raised court proceedings, the solicitors acting on behalf of the employer put forward a Tender of £2,850. We discussed this sum with our client, advising him that it was a similar amount to what he could expect to be offered by the court, and he confirmed he wished to accept it. The case was settled on 29 August 2017.

Client's trip because of unsafe construction work – August 2017

On 7 January 2015, Heather Gray, our client, was involved in a trip accident. She was working as a team leader in the health and social care department of the City of Edinburgh Council.

Our client had gone out for a walk in the evening. It was raining and dark at this time. There was lighting on the street, but it wasn't very effective. On this particular occasion, her route involved walking along Balmwell Terrace.

At this time, work was being carried out on the road by Hart Builders Limited, which included a resurfacing of the pavement. As a result of the construction work, the metal frame of a utility hole on the pavement had buckled from pressure, and its cover no longer fit properly.

As Mrs Gray placed her left foot on the lid, it moved and her leg fell straight through. She fell forward on to her hands, with both legs going down the hole. The cover flipped over, piercing her right thigh. As her right knee was trapped against the frame, she was unable to pull herself up. It took approximately ten minutes for her to be able to reach her phone and call her husband. Her husband, as well as a couple who had stopped their car to help, finally managed to free her from the utility hole.

The Consequences

Our client contacted the police and the council about the incident. However, despite her efforts to alert them to the danger, nothing was done to fix the hole. They only put up a sign, which soon blew down.

Mrs Gray visited her GP to have her injury checked. Her thigh was badly bruised and she had a laceration that was at risk of becoming infected. Her hamstring was also injured and she required physiotherapy for this.

The injury to her right thigh took one year to fully heal, although the worst symptoms were mostly resolved in two months. She also had pain in her left ankle, which subsided after ten days.

As she was already off work recovering from an unrelated health issue, she didn't need to take any time off work because of her injury, but it still affected her, causing her to limp for about a week.

The Settlement

Mrs Gray instructed our work accident solicitors through her union, ASLEF. We intimated our client's trip injury claim to Hart Builders Limited on the grounds of common law.

The defender put forward an initial offer of £2,000. Mrs Gray agreed with our solicitors that this was too low. We therefore rejected it on her behalf. This then started a process where we made a number of counter-proposals, and we eventually reached a final settlement of £3,250, which took into account her pain and suffering as well as her treatment costs, on 27 August 2017.

 

Administrative assistance's trip on unsafe stairs – August 2017

Following a workplace accident our client, an administrative assistant for South Lanarkshire Council, was involved in on 12 November 2016, she decided to pursue a claim with Thompsons.

On the day of her accident, our client was approximately halfway through her shift, carrying out secretarial duties such as typing records, arranging meetings, and dealing with team leaders.

When she was making her way back to her office building from her lunch break, her foot got caught in a hole that was present on the concrete stairs leading up to the building's car park. She fell forward on to the pavement, landing on her left-hand side. To break her fall, our client placed her left hand out in front of her, but doing so caused immediate pain in her left shoulder. As she managed to get to her feet, she immediately became aware of pain in her right foot.

The Consequences

She made her way back to the office and reported the injury. Although she was intent on continuing with her work, our client soon found that the pain in her right foot was becoming worse, and she informed her manager that she had to return home.

She then got a lift to the hospital, where an x-ray confirmed she'd chipped the bone in her foot. She required a moon boot and crutches to aid the recovery process, and she was also prescribed pain relief medication.

We should also note that our client suffers from osteoarthritis. Because of this pre-existing condition, our client had previously had an operation to replace her right hip, and she found that wearing the moon boot caused a strain on her replacement hip. As a result, walking was very difficult.

She also struggled with several household tasks, such as hoovering, cleaning, shopping, cooking, and dressing. She was still able to work, but required her manager to drive her to and from work.

The Settlement

Our client instructed Thompsons personal injury solicitors through her union, UNISON.

As South Lanarkshire Council had not properly maintained the stairs, we believe there was a clear argument for liability for our client's accident. By not fixing the hole in the stairs, they had created a trip hazard in the form of an unsuitable floor surface.

We intimated a claim to the Council, and they admitted liability. To help our client receive a fair settlement, we had her examined by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, whose report confirmed she'd sustained a metatarsal fracture and soft tissue injuries to her wrist and shoulder, allowing for a recovery period of eight weeks.

This report was sent to the defender (the insurance company acting on behalf of the council) along with a valuation. They responded with an offer of £3,000 in full and final settlement. Our client confirmed she was happy to accept this amount, bringing her trip injury case to a close on 25 August 2017.

 

Bank worker's fall due to missing drain cover – August 2017

Our client in this case worked as a sales and service associate for HSBC bank. He was involved in a workplace accident on 30 November 2015.

On the night of his accident, he had just finished a 2pm to 10pm shift. The building in which he worked had a company car park for employees to use. Because his shift had started late in the day, he'd had to park in a place towards the back of the car park.

He exited the building and proceeded to cross the company car park. As he walked over a drain, his left leg fell into the space below. He hadn't realised that a section of drain cover was missing, creating a very dangerous trip hazard. Although there were lampposts in the car park, they did not light the area very well, making it hard for our client to see the hazard. Feeling immediate pain in his foot, he managed to make it to his car.

The consequences

Our client's pain was bad enough for him to decide he was unfit to drive home. Instead, he made his way back to the building and informed staff of the missing drain cover.

It was here that a first-aider attempted to assist our client. However, she was unsure of the best way to treat him and so asked him what treatment he wanted. When our client informed the first aider that she should be advising him on the best treatment, she put down on the report form that he'd refused treatment. Our client did not agree with this.

He then got a lift to the hospital, where the staff informed our client that, while he hadn't broken his foot, he had done some ligament damage and needed to rest his foot. He was instructed to take ibuprofen.

Following the accident, our client experienced pain in his foot whenever he walked upstairs. Furthermore, he was unable to participate in activities he enjoyed, such as taking his dog for long walks.

The settlement

The HSBC employee was able to instruct Thompsons Work accident solicitors through his union, Unite.

Our client had not been made aware of the drain, nor was he aware of any system in place that allows people to report safety hazards in the car park.

His employer was therefore liable for the accident because they didn't take the appropriate measures to make sure the work premises were safe for all staff.

Our work accident solicitors believed the employer to be in violation of several regulations, including the Workplace (Health and Safety Welfare) Regulations 1992 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

HSBC admitted liability and put forward an initial offer of £1,750. We discussed this offer with our client. Agreeing that it was too low to compensate for his ankle injury, our client instructed us to reject the claim.

This made the defender return with an increased offer, and the case was eventually settled on 25 August 2017 for a sum of £4,300.

 

Customer assistant's slip accident in unsafe freezer – August 2017

Our client instructed Thompsons’ work accident solicitors through her union, Usdaw, following an accident at her workplace that caused her to sustain an injury.

As a customer assistant employed by Tesco, it was our client’s job to fill the freezers, taking in deliveries and ensuring the freezers are fully stocked. On 19 June 2016, she was nearing the end of her shift, having just worked all through the night, when the incident occurred.

She had just finished taking in the deliveries and was now tidying up the shelves. Because she noticed there were some spaces in the freezer where some missing items should go, she started to make her way to the large freezer in the back area of the supermarket, which stores all the frozen items.

There is a plastic curtain directly inside the large freezer once the door is slid open. The curtain had been damaged at the top, allowing ice to gather there and then fall to the floor. As soon as our client entered the freezer, her foot slipped on the ice, and she fell straight on her back. Her left arm hit a small metal barrier on the floor just outside the freezer, and she also hit her head on the floor. After she managed to get to her feet, she noticed the ball of ice that had caused her fall.

The consequences

Our client went to fill out an accident report while she was suffering a lot of pain in her head, left arm, and hip. She then returned home, took some pain relief medication, and went to bed. But when she awoke, the pain had become worse. She visited her GP the next day for an examination. Her GP provided her with a sick line and pain relief medication for a muscular injury.

The pain continued to worsen, leading to our client seeking further medical care from the A&E department at Monklands Hospital. The doctor there confirmed she had not punctured her lung, which had been previously feared by her GP, but that she had pulled a muscle.

The pain eventually subsided, but during the recovery period, our client had difficulty doing household work, such as hoovering and preparing meals, and could not enjoy gardening (one of her main hobbies).

Overall, the customer assistant was absent from her work for two weeks, but she didn't incur any loss of earnings during this time.

The settlement

Slip accidents at work are extremely common, and Thompsons' work accident solicitors have a lot of experience with handling these types of cases and were confident of our client's chances of success. This was because numerous complaints had been previously made about the ice by our client's colleagues, but wasn't until after our client's accident that the curtain was fixed. By not fixing he curtain sooner, the employer hadn't provided their employees with a safe workplace, and this gave us strong grounds for making a successful claim.

Thompsons intimated a claim to our client's employees, and the insurance company acting on their behalf admitted liability. To help us value the claim so we could receive a fair settlement for our client, we had them examined by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon. The report confirmed she sustained a closed minor head injury and soft tissue bruising to her chest and right buttock. The report allowed for an eight-week period of recovery.

This information was sent to the insurance company, who responded by putting forward an initial offer of £2,200 in full and final settlement. We discussed this with our client, who, agreeing it was too low, rejected it. The insurer then put forward an increased offer of £2,700, which our client confirmed she wished to accept, and we settled the case on 21 August 2017.

 

School worker's injury while supervising bus – August 2017

On 27 November, our client, Mrs Maureen Phinn was involved in a workplace accident, which led her to seek compensation for her injuries.

At the time of the incident, Mrs Phinn was working for the Glasgow City Council as a pupil support assistant and bus escort within New Hills Secondary School, a school for children with special needs and learning difficulties. The incident happened when she was carrying out her bus escort duties. This role required her to supervise the pupils on the bus as they were taken to and from the school. Since the beginning of the new school term, a new pupil had been allocated to the bus that our client supervises. This pupil had documented behavioural issues that posed a risk to staff, but this was not made known to Mrs Phinn at the time.

The new pupil had already been picked up and was sat on the bus when another pupil, who was clearly very upset and agitated, entered the bus and started banging on the windows. This behaviour agitated the new pupil, who started banging his head on the window. Noticing blood on his forehead, Mrs Phinn asked the bus driver to pull over so she could intervene.

Worried that he was going to seriously harm himself, Mrs Phinn approached the pupil to try to calm him down. However, when she did so, the pupil attempted to bite our client, causing her to jump abruptly away. The pupil then proceeded to stand and swing his rucksack around, striking our client on the neck and shoulder.

The Consequences

Our client went to see her GP the day following the incident, and she was given painkillers for the injury to her neck and shoulder. Our client was off work for one week but didn't sustain any loss of earnings during this time.

When she returned to work, however, she still felt pain in her neck and shoulder. She visited the People Asset Management group, who recommended she undertake physiotherapy. In addition to her physical injuries, the incident also caused her a great deal of anxiety and stress.

Our client was off work for one week but didn't sustain any loss of earnings during this time. She also required help with the housework and shopping.

The Settlement

Mrs Phinn instructed Thompsons' work accident solicitors through her union, UNISON. We intimated a claim to the defender on the basis of common law with reference to Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

There was no excuse for Mrs Phinn's employer not to have been fully aware that the pupil's behaviour was problematic, as there was a long documented history of similar behaviour on buses.

What's more, Mrs Phinn was not provided with key information that could have prevented her injury. Usually, when a new pupil is transferred onto another bus, the bus escort should be provided with documentation informing them of any potential risks the pupil's behaviour could pose. No such documentation was given to Mrs Phinn prior to the incident, even though it did exist. Only after the incident did our client find out that there was a risk assessment warning of the pupil's reactions to loud noises and his tendency to strike his head. The same risk assessment also stated that staff should have been provided with bite sleeves and that they shouldn't try to stop him hitting his head because of the risk of being bitten.

Obviously, had Mrs Phinn been provided with this information, she would have handled the situation differently and lessened the risk of being bitten. By not providing Mrs Phinn with the appropriate risk assessment known, her employer was in violation of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Despite all this, in August 2017 the case was settled without admission of liability, with the defender offering our client a compensation award in the sum of £5,000 for her neck and shoulder injuries.

 

Hostel worker's claim for workplace assault – August 2017

Our client was employed as a concierge at the Perth & Kinross hostel when she was involved in an incident that led to her suffering a workplace injury.

In the early hours of 30 March 2013, a man, who had been admitted to the hostel since 22 March 2013, entered the premises. As it was late at night, the building was locked up and the vehicular gate at the front was closed, but the man proceeded to climb over the gate and started knocking on the front door, asking to be let in.

Despite telling him to that they could not let him in because of how late it was (which, as he'd already spent some time at the hospital, he should've known), he continued to try to get in, becoming more aggressive.

Eventually, after several attempts at trying to get in the building and being repeatedly informed he had to come back later, he managed to break a window and make his way into the staff corridor, heading for the reception area. It was now that our client and her colleague became aware that the man intended to attack them, and so they called the police. The attacker got hold of a fire extinguisher and smashed through the reception office window. Both our client and her colleague had to climb out the window to get outside and then climb over the vehicular gate (it would have taken too long to wait for it to open and then close again). At this point they could hear the attacker now trying to break through the internal security door. Our client hurt her back while climbing out the window. It's worth noting that the attacker should not have been able to break through the glass as easily as he did, because the window was meant to be made of safety glass. However, as glass had been changed (which our client was unaware of), the attacker could break through it easily.

They called the police a second time, who arrived and, after some time spent searching, found the attacker in another occupant's room – a girl whom he assaulted.

The Consequences

Because of the attack, our client sustained an injury to her back and suffered a generalised anxiety disorder as a result.

Her anxiety disorder has led her to suffer from severe insomnia and panic attacks. The impact the incident made on her mental state meant that her GP referred her to a psychiatrist.

The incident and its effect on her caused her to take voluntary redundancy, which meant she sustained a loss of pension and loss of earnings.

The Settlement

Our client instructed Thompsons work accident solicitors through her union, UNISON. We intimated a claim to the council.

The employer did not fulfil their obligations to their staff by not taking the necessary steps to keep them safe. At the time of the incident, the most recent risk assessment on the occupant didn't include anything about his violent nature.

However, a later risk assessment in 2014 noted a history of violence (specifically towards women), which, had this been known, the man would never have been admitted to the hostel. He had also been previously excluded from the hostel in 2005 and was banned from all hostels in the jurisdiction of Perth and Kinross Council in 2006.

Her employer had not included the information of the 2014 risk assessment in the earlier assessment even though they would have been aware of the man's history of violence at that time. By not including this important information and providing our client with the relevant risk assessment, they were putting all their staff in danger.

Unable to reach a settlement with the defender pre-litigation, we were required to litigate the case. Because our client didn't inform us of the impact on her earnings until very shortly before the proof hearing, we had to make a late minute of amendment to adjust the case. Unfortunately, this amendment was not accepted by the court.

At the pre-trial meeting, we managed to achieve a compensation amount of £12,000 for our client's workplace assault incident. However, this sum did not compensate for future loss of earnings or for future pension loss.

Our client's colleague who was involved in the attack also made a claim with Thompsons (see below).

 

Assaulted hostel worker's claim for severe psychiatric injury – August 2017

Our client was employed as a hostel assistant at the Perth & Kinross hostel when she was involved in an incident, the same as her colleague in the case study above.

In the early hours of 30 March 2013, a man who had been staying at the hostel tried to gain access. At this time, however, the hostel had been locked up for the night, and the staff were not permitted to let him in. The resident should have known this, but he continued to make attempts to get inside the building.

When our client and her colleague informed the man that they could not let him in the hostel, he became aggressive towards them. Knowing that the resident had a history of violence, the two hostel employees continued to ignore him, but he then proceeded to break a window and enter the building. At this point her colleague called the police. When he then began trying to break the reception office window with a fire extinguisher, our client and her colleague were forced to escape through another window and then climbed over the vehicular gate. In doing so, our client injured her shoulder.

It was later found that the man was on parole at the time and, given that he'd been previously banned from the hostel after an incident in 2005, should not have been allowed to stay at the hostel in the first place. However, the employer informed our client that a change in legislation meant he had to be permitted because of his homelessness.

The Consequences

As well as the injury to her left shoulder, our client also suffered severe psychiatric injury as a result of the attempted assault. She still gets traumatic flashbacks of the attacker approaching her, and she has had to seek help from a psychiatrist to help with her post-traumatic stress disorder. Our client had the very real fear that she was going to be badly hurt or possibly even killed if the attacker managed to get to her. As the attacker was holding a pair of scissors while breaking into the building, our client and her colleague had every reason to believe he intended to attack them.

What's more, she also suffers from fibromyalgia, which became worse in the aftermath of the incident.

The Settlement

Our client instructed Thompsons work accident solicitors through her union, UNISON. We intimated a claim to Perth and Kinross Council. They initially denied liability.

Her employer tried to place liability on our client by claiming she breached protocol by not calling the police as soon as the man climbed the gate. But our client felt that if staff called the police for every small breach of security, it would lead to them raising too many false alarms with the police. It was reasonable for our client and her colleague to call the police only once the threat to their safety became severe.

However, our solicitors continued to fight for our client, making reference to where her employer had failed in their duty to sufficiently protect their employees as outlines in the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999. They were therefore breaching our client's right to be safe at work. We also had CCTV footage of the incident, which helped our case.

On 18 August 2017, after a long-running denial of liability from her employer, we finally reached a settlement post-litigation of £55,000 for our client's shoulder injury and psychiatric injury, which was £15,000 more than the initial offer. This sum included compensation for pension loss and loss of earnings.

 

Hospital porter claims compensation for knee injury – August 2017

When our client, Mr John McGrouther, was involved in a workplace accident on 18 August 2017, he decided to make a claim with the help of Thompsons Solicitors.

When he sustained his workplace injury, Mr McGrouther was employed by the NHS as a Porter at the Western General Infirmary. As part of his job, he needed to transport trolleys full of breakfasts from the hospital's kitchen to the wards. The meals are separated on trays inside the trolley, but the milk cartons are placed at the bottom without a tray.

As our client was walking down the ramp that connects the main kitchen to the main corridor, milk started dripping out the trolley and ran down the ramp. Mr McGrouther was pulling the trolley, walking in front of it, and did not see the milk. He slipped on the spillage, falling on to his left knee.

The Consequences

Although he did not seek medical treatment for his knee injury right away, Mr McGrouther soon became aware that he had badly damaged his knee as he had difficulty resuming his duties the following day. He therefore decided to visit the minor injuries unit at the hospital he worked at, where the staff believed he'd sprained his ankle. However, when he visited his GP a few days later, they thought he had damaged his knee cartilage and needed to see a physiotherapist.

It was later confirmed that Mr McGrouther had suffered a small meniscal tear to his knee, which he needed surgery to correct.

The injury meant our client was unable to walk properly, which had a substantial impact on his life during the recovery period, and he required his wife to help him out around the house.

Because Mr McGrouther was doing a lot of overtime at the time of the accident, he suffered a significant loss of earnings. Overall, he lost £1091 together with services and miscellaneous expenses.

The Settlement

Mr McGrouther instructed Thompsons through his union, UNISON. The leaking milk posed a clear workplace hazard, and our client is aware that other people have been injured in a similar way, so his employer should have taken the necessary steps to help eliminate the risks. So we intimated the workplace slipping case to his employer with reference to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

Unsatisfied with the defender's first offer, we were able to settle the case after putting forward a counter offer. Settlement was reached on 18 August 2017, with our client receiving compensation in the sum of £5,250, which was over £1,000 better than the defender's initial offer.

 

Incident leading to Co-Operative employee's head injury – August 2017

Our client, who suffered a head and neck injury as the result of a disorderly customer on 20 August 2016, was working as a customer team member at a Co-Operative Food.

Her role generally required her to be situated at the shop's kiosk, where she has to serve customers when they are purchasing lottery tickets, cigarettes, general groceries, and alcohol.

When she was nearing the end of her Saturday-afternoon shift, a male customer, who was noticeably intoxicated, entered the shop. The customer made his way to the alcohol section and took a pack of beer cans and two wine bottles from the shelves. When he arrived at the kiosk, our client explained to him that she couldn't serve him because he was already in a drunken state, and to do so would be against the law. She proceeded to take the bottles of wine from him and bent to her left-hand side to place them out of the way.

However, as she was bent over, the customer, who was unhappy that he'd been refused service, hit her over the head with the four-pack of beer and then walked away.

It should be noted that at this stage of the afternoon, our client's managers had already left, leaving her on the shop floor alone.

The Consequences

Left in shock from this sudden attack, our client started calling for help. Two colleagues, who had been in the back of the store, came to her assistance. Her colleagues called the police to the scene, and our client gave a statement. Extremely upset because of the incident, our client refused the police's offer to take her to the hospital and instead texted her sister to come and take her home.

But when she awoke the next morning with a painful headache, she decided to go to the hospital. The staff there examined her and confirmed she had bruising and a bump but no lacerations or a concussion. They prescribed her with painkillers.

She also saw her GP, who provided her with a sick line note. In total, the incident caused our client to miss four weeks of work. She was paid most of her wages for the days missed but, rather unfairly, wasn't paid for the Sunday immediately following the day of her injury (our client thinks this may be because she didn't take her sick line note into work until the following Monday).

Her injury meant she couldn't attend her weekly Zumba class for five weeks.

The Settlement

The head injury compensation claim was made with the help of our client's union, Usdaw, through whom our client was able to instruct our work accident solicitors.

The claim was intimated to her employer on the basis that they could have helped prevent such an incident from happening by employing a security guard. A security guard would have prevented the drunken customer from entering the shop in the first place, but because her employers considered the shop to be low-risk, they hadn't done this. Her employer also failed to carry out a risk assessment in relation to this type of incident in the workplace. Her colleagues should also not have left her alone on the shop floor – it ought to have been reasonably foreseeable that leaving her on her own would be putting her at risk.

The defender admitted liability and, on receipt of medical evidence, made an offer of £5,037.95 in full and final settlement for the physical injuries to our client's head, neck, and shoulder as well as her psychological injuries. We discussed this sum with our client, and on 18 August 2017 she confirmed she wanted to accept it.

 

Employee's cut to index finger – August 2017

On 16 August 2016, our client, who works as a team leader for the Co-op group, was injured while at work.

As the team leader, our client must complete various duties, including filling shelves, maintaining waste, and overseeing other staff.

On this particular occasion, our client was cutting meat in the deli using the slicing machine. The machine's blade came into contact with her finger and caused a laceration injury. A flap of skin was hanging off at the tip of her finger. Immediately following the accident, she went to receive first aid and was advised to go to the hospital.

The Consequences

At the hospital, our client was given stitches and a tetanus injection. She then returned two days later to have the wound redressed.

The laceration eventually healed but left our client with lasting effects. Because she is right-handed, our client struggled a great deal with opening cans. Her finger also became very sore in cold weather. She also required help with tasks such as washing her hair, and household tasks took longer to complete.

As part of the claims process, a medical expert examined our client's injury to determine the exact extent of the damage. He confirmed that she'd sustained a flap wound to her right index finger that took two to three weeks to heal. But our client also experienced a loss of sensation in the tip of her finger which, unfortunately, the medical expert confirmed was likely to be permanent.

Even though she didn't lose any earning (as she was only absent from work for one day), she did incur travel expenses from travelling to and from the hospital in the car.

The Settlement

The Co-op worker's union, USDAW, referred her to Thompsons in September 2016, and our work accident solicitors took on the case, helping our client claim compensation for her injury due to unsafe work equipment.

Slicing machines usually have handles that allow for the meat to be moved back and forth while keeping the user's hands a safe distance away from the blade. However, in this case, the handle was broken, and our client had to grip the machine much closer to the blade, increasing her chances of coming into contact with it. There were also no risk assessments carried out regarding the operation of this clearly risky machine. There had even been a similar incident where another employee injured themselves using the machine, but no changes were made regarding its use.

We believed that the employer was in breach of several workplace safety regulations; they had failed to comply with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1996, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

Our client's employers decided to carry out their own investigations. After doing so, they admitted liability.

The defenders put forward an initial offer that we felt was too low. Although it was in line with the award a court would likely make, our experienced work accident solicitors still felt that, as our client's symptoms were permanent, we should be able to claim a higher amount.

We were successfully able to do so, and negotiated a sum of £5,000 for our client's finger wound, settling the case on 16 August 2017.

 

Café assistant's slip accident– August 2017

When she suffered a slip injury at work, our client was employed by WM Morrison Supermarkets as a café assistant.

On 17 March 2016, she had just completed the first half of her shift and so went on a break. She proceeded to walk through the supermarket but realised she couldn't go her normal way as there were customers blocking her route. So, instead, she chose a route that required her to walk past the stalls in the produce section. As she walked between two stalls, our client suddenly felt something underfoot that caused her to lose her footing. She fell and hit her head on the floor.

After her fall, she felt very disorientated and could feel a sharp pain in her head and her hip. Her colleagues and other customers surrounded her, trying to help. It was from them that she was able to gather what had caused her to fall: fruit juice had been spilled on the floor and not cleaned up. This was clear from the skid mark left on the floor where our client had slipped.

The consequences

Paramedics arrived at the supermarket to examine her. They thought she had hit her coccyx and that she would experience swelling and bruising. At the time, they thought it unnecessary to take her to hospital and instead recommended that she take co-codamol for the pain.

A few hours after returning home, our client experienced neck pain. This pain meant she could not get comfortable and caused her to stay up all night. She called a doctor to make a home visit the next day, at which point her left hand, neck, and shoulder were all swollen. The doctor told her she had suffered a whiplash injury in her neck.

Concerned that she had also suffered a fracture, the doctor ordered an ambulance to take our client to the hospital, where she was given x-rays. The x-rays confirmed she hadn't suffered any fractures, but hospital staff provided her with a brace for her left wrist.

She was absent from the date of the accident until 7 April, but she was still experiencing slight pain at this point. As a result, she sustained a loss of earnings amounting to £387.51. Our client's injuries eventually resolved within three months.

The settlement

The café assistant was able to instruct Thompsons through her union, Usdaw, and we intimated a claim to her employer.

As they had not made sure the shop floor was free of slip hazards, and therefore had failed in their duty of care to their employees, the woman’s employer was found liable for the accident. Our client also believes that the footwear she was provided with increased the chances of her slipping, as the soles can easily become clogged.

We were happy to settle the case pre-litigation after making a counter proposal for the sum of £6,500.

 

NHS worker's manual handling injury – August 2017

When he suffered a workplace accident on 2 September 2014, our client was employed by NHS Lothian at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) in the Sterilisation Department. On the day of his accident, he was situated in the decontamination area.

Working in this area, our client had to move around trolleys packed with surgical trays and also clean the trays. There were two lines of tightly packed trolleys, and our client needed to remove a trolley from the rear of one of the lines to get to a tray for cleaning. As the handles on this trolley were not accessible, our client placed his hands on the top bumper strip. He wiggled the trolley slightly and then tried pulling it gently. However, the trolley failed to move. Our client thought that this was due to the rear wheels being caught. As a result he continued to pull the trolley to free it from the adjoining one. When he did, the trolley suddenly came free and ran over his right foot.

The Consequences

He decided not to seek medical treatment immediately after the accident and instead went home. But when the pain didn't improve overnight, he attended the A&E department at his workplace. It was confirmed he had a soft tissue injury to his foot. He didn't make a full recovery for nine months, but the injury had mostly resolved in seven weeks.

As he didn't want to lose overtime and had scheduled annual leave starting the week of the accident, he didn't take any time off work, but the pain caused him to struggle with a few daily tasks, such as shopping and driving.

The Settlement

Our client instructed Thompsons' work accident solicitors through his union, UNISON.

Because our client had not been sufficiently trained to carry out this task, his employer was held liable for the incident. Our client did receive annual manual handling training, but this never covered handling the trolleys. He also shouldn't have been asked to fill in for his supervisor in the first place.

The defender put forward an offer of £1,500 compensation for the soft tissue injury to our client's foot. We discussed this offer with our client and, considering the medical evidence available and the amount of suffering the injury had caused, we agreed this was fair. The case was settled on 11 August 2017.

 

Butcher's leg injury because of broken pallet – August 2017

When he was involved in a workplace accident on 1 June 2015, our client was working as a supervisor and butcher for Scotbeef.

Our client's job requires him to organise meat that's sent to him from the slaughterhouse. He has to remove trays of meat from pallets and place them into trolleys, sorting them by their date.

These pallets can store 30 trays. Once a pallet has been completely emptied, our client is then required to lift it up and take it to the debagging area so it can be stacked with the other empty pallets. After our client had taken all the trays out of one pallet, he lifted it onto its side, intending to drag it over to the debagging area.

However, when he did so, the underside of the pallet came away and struck his right shin.

The consequences

Immediately after the accident, our client felt blood trickling down his leg. He went to see the first-aider, who cleaned and dressed the wound for him, and then returned to work. He continued to work for a few days following the accident but soon realised the wound had become infected. He therefore visited his GP, who prescribed him with a course of antibiotics to help clear the infection. He also started attending the treatment room at the Rutherglen Health Centre so they could bandage the wound and monitor the healing process.

This injury was particularly problematic for our client because he'd had a skin graft to the shin area for a previous injury. During treatment it became apparent that the impact caused a breakdown of the skin and an ulceration on his leg. The ulcer meant he had to spend a further nine weeks attending an ulcer clinic within the health centre.

His injury meant the Scotbeef worker had to be absent from work for over two months following the accident, during which time he lost a considerable amount of earnings – in the sum of £4,362.78. He made a phased return to work.

The settlement

The client was a member of the union Usdaw, and it was through them that he was able to instruct Thompsons' work accident solicitors.

We intimated a claim to his employer, who admitted liability for the incident. Because they had provided our client with unsafe working equipment, and he was injured as a result, they were in violation of several regulations, including the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

The defender initially put forward an offer of £7,000. However, considering the amount of suffering the accident had caused our client, we felt we should be able to get a higher offer. We discussed this amount with our client, who decided to reject the offer. This led to an increased offer of £8,000 being put forward, which our client confirmed he wanted to accept.

 

Client's trip due to poorly installed banister – August 2017

On 14 October 2015, our client had an accident in his home that led him to seek compensation with Thompsons Solicitors.

Our client in this case had previously suffered a stroke in 2008 and two mini strokes in 2009 and 2010. These strokes had left him with a weakened left side (hemiparesis). He'd also developed vascular dementia. Because of his condition, he required help around the house from a social worker provided to him by Glasgow City Council.

Prior to the accident, our client was still able to make his way around the house, albeit with the assistance of aids. He could walk up and down the stairs but needed to hold on to the bannister on one side.

The bannister in our client's house did not extend all the way to the bottom of the stairs. Instead, it stopped where the wall stopped, about two or three steps before the bottom. There is a cabinet in place inline with these final few unguarded steps. It was decided that having a bannister which extended all the way to the bottom of the stairs would be beneficial to him.

When the building contractor, City Building, came to carry out the necessary adaptations to the bannister, however, they left a gap between where the old bannister finished and the new one started. When questioned about this by our client's daughter, the workman informed her that his manager had instructed him to leave a gap.

A few weeks later, as our client was making his way down the stairs, his hand got caught in the gap and he fell down the remainder of the stairs.

The consequences

His wife and daughter, who were in the house at the time of the accident, took him to Glasgow Royal Infirmary. The doctor there confirmed he had suffered a non-displaced proximal humeral fracture to his left shoulder. This was made worse by our client's existing hemiparesis. A medical expert confirmed his left arm was already compromised with a fixed flexion contracture of the elbow, and contractures in our client's left hand had already caused a significant loss of power and function.

Our client needed to have his arm in a sling for six to eight weeks, during which time he had to attend the fracture clinic. After these eight weeks, the worst of the symptoms had settled.

As a result of the accident, our client's mobility substantially decreased. He had to greater rely on his carers and family to move him around the house and to help with his personal care, and he was unable to walk more than a few steps without the assistance of a wheelchair.

A new bannister, with no gaps, has been installed since the accident. But there is no reason why it couldn't have been installed this way in the first place.

The settlement

Our client was able to instruct Thompsons' accident solicitors through his union, UNISON.

Because of his health condition, our client was unable to speak directly to us by telephone. Therefore, it was necessary for a Power of Attorney to be put in place, allowing our solicitors to obtain instructions through his wife.

When we intimated a claim to the defender, they put forward an initial offer of £6,000. We discussed this with our client, and it was rejected. This led to an improved offer of £7,000 being put forward, which, in August 2017, after further discussions with Thompsons' personal injury solicitors, our client confirmed he wanted to accept.

 

Co-op worker assaulted when returning to work - August 2017

Our client, Mrs Ann Green, worked as a team leader at the Co-Operative when she sustained an injury in her workplace.

Mrs Green’s job required her to supervise the customer service area and to ensure the smooth running of the department.

On 27 August 2016, our client was returning to work from her break. She had been to visit her aunt, who lives on the other side of the store’s car park. As our client was walking back through the car park towards the store, she noticed a man shouting and swearing very loudly. Mrs Green recognised this man, as he was known to the area for his aggressive outbursts.

The man walked towards our client and then suddenly lunged towards her, head-butting her on the left side of her face. He then walked away. Our client went back to the store and then phoned the police.

The consequences

After giving a statement to the police, she returned to work and finished her shift. But the incident left a significant impact.

Our client suffered physical injuries in the form of bruising to her face. However, the stress and anxiety caused by the incident proved even more injurious. She has frequent panic attacks, and her anxiety is made worse because her job requires her to be on her own for part of the day. She has trouble going to work early in the morning and then returning home late at night.

To help with her psychiatric injury, her GP referred her to a counsellor for a series of sessions.

Despite her injuries, Mrs Green was not absent from work following the accident and therefore didn’t sustain any loss of earnings.

The settlement

Mrs Green instructed Thompsons’ work accident solicitors through her union, Usdaw. We intimated a claim against Co-Operative Food on the grounds that they’d failed to provide a safe work environment, including safe access and egress. We made reference to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1990. Similar incidents involving the same man assaulting other members of staff had been recorded previously, so it should have been reasonably foreseeable that such incidents would continue to happen if appropriate measures were not put in place. It was only after Mrs Green’s incident that her employer put sufficient measures in place, such as providing staff with panic buttons and increasing the number of security guards on duty. Had these measures been used earlier, it's likely the incident would not have happened.

The defender (the insurers acting on behalf of Co-Operative Food) admitted liability. We sent them a medical report detailing Mrs Green’s injuries, and they responded with an initial offer of £6,384. We discussed this sum with our client, stating that we felt it was too low. Our client agreed with us and rejected the offer. In August the defender made an increased offer of £7,184.00, which our client confirmed she was willing to accept.

 

Fire warden's claim for trip injury – August 2017

During her employment as a business improvement officer for the Scottish government, our client was involved in a workplace accident. She is based at St Andrew's House in Edinburgh and also acts as a fire warden for the building – a role which led to her sustaining an injury.

On 7 March 2017, at around 11am, the building's fire alarm went off for a fire drill. As a fire warden, our client has to escort people out of the building to a nearby muster point. However, on this occasion, as she was making her way to the muster point, her foot got caught in a pothole on the pavement. She tripped but managed to stay upright by holding on to a colleague. However, she sprained her ankle in the process.

The Consequences

The pain in her ankle meant our client couldn't walk without difficulty. She needed assistance from her colleagues so she could get to the muster point. After receiving first aid, she returned to work. She later needed to call her mother to come and drive her home, as the injury meant she was unable to drive her car herself.

The following Monday, our client's GP suggested that she visit the hospital, where the staff confirmed that her ankle wasn't broken but was very badly sprained. They gave her a compression wrap and told her to keep her ankle elevated.

The sprain resulted in our client limping for three to four weeks following the accident, but the injury didn't fully resolve for two months.

Overall, she was absent from work for two weeks, during which time she was paid in full and didn't sustain any loss of earnings. She did, however, incur out-of-pocket expenses as she had to take a taxi to her hospital appointment.

She was confined to her house and unable to complete household chores by herself during the time she was off, and she also had to miss her regular exercise class.

The Settlement

Our client was able to instruct Thompsons' personal injury solicitors through her union, PCS. We intimated a claim to her employer on the basis of occupiers' liability law. They had failed their responsibility of maintaining the premises and making sure it was free of any hazards that would put employees and visitors as risk. We also made reference to the Directive 89654 Work Place (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations as well as Regulation 3 of the Management Regulations.

Her employer initially denied liability, so we proceeded with litigation and arranged a pre-proof consultation. Just prior to the date of the consultation, however, the defender put forward an offer of £2,500. We discussed this sum with our client, who felt it was fair and confirmed she wanted to accept it, settling the case on 8 August 2017.

 

Compensation for factory worker's head injury – August 2017

Our client, Mrs Elizabeth McKechnie, was employed by Lees Factory as a packer when she was involved in a workplace accident on 14 October 2016.

Mrs McKechnie's job requires her to pack confectionery products into boxes as well as clean up the factory area. On the day of her incident, she was sweeping up around line 3 of the factory. After she collected dirt on the floor, she bent over with a dustpan and brush to sweep it up, crouching down on her knees. As she stood back up, she hit the right side of her head on the metal box containing the on and off switch for the machine that sends boxes down the line. These switches are present at every line and protrude out of the machines they are attached to, putting workers at risk of colliding with them.

The consequences

Immediately after catching her head, Mrs McKechnie felt dizzy. She put her hand up to her head and noticed that it was bleeding. As she was feeling disorientated, colleagues came to her assistance, getting her a chair and calling an ambulance.

The paramedics arrived and took her to hospital, where a nurse examined her head and cleaned up the bleeding from the wound.

Our client didn't take any time off work and therefore didn’t suffer any loss of earnings, but her head injury did still affect her life.

For instance, her head kept bleeding during the recovery period, and she struggled with washing and brushing her hair. She also suffered from a headache for a couple of days following the accident, which prevented her from walking her dog – a hobby she very much enjoys.

The settlement

Mrs McKechnie was able to instruct Thompsons' work accident solicitors through her union Usdaw. We then proceeded to intimate a claim to her employer, beginning the compensation claim process.

The metal boxes protruding from the machines created a clear workplace hazard, and more should have been done to protect workers from them. Our client also informed us that she and a colleague had similar accidents before involving the metal boxes.

Mrs McKechnie's employer admitted liability for the accident. And put forward an offer of £1,500 in full and final settlement. However, we felt this was too low to compensate for the injury sufficiently, and we advised our client that we could likely get an increased offer if we put forward medical evidence in relation to her injury.

Therefore, we obtained a medical report from a consultant in emergency medicine, which confirmed the extent of the laceration to Mrs McKechnie's head, allowing for a three-month period of recovery. When the insurance company acting on behalf of the employer received this information, they proposed an offer of £2,500 compensation.

After further discussions, our client again rejected their offer. This led to the defender putting forward an offer of £2,950. Mrs McKechnie confirmed to us she wanted to accept this sum. We reached a settlement on 8 August 2017.

 

Warehouse operator's slip on ice – August 2017

Our client, who was involved in a slip accident at work on 28 January 2017, was employed as a warehouse operative by the Co-op.

His role required him to pick items for order, place them in cages, and take them to the loading bay to be transported to stores. The cages were attached to a low-level order picker truck (LLOP). On the night of his accident, he was working in the freezer department. He parked his LLOP in an aisle to retrieve a cardboard box full of bread, but as he was walking back to the LLOP, his left foot slipped on a patch of built-up ice. Despite trying to put his right wrist out to break his fall, he fell on to his back.

After getting to his feet, he tried to finish the order, but the growing pain in his wrist meant he couldn't continue, so he instead went to inform his team assistant leader about the incident. The assistant team leader took a photograph of the ice and then had our client looked over by a first aider.

The consequences

A colleague took our client to hospital, where he was given an x-ray on his wrist. This confirmed he had sustained soft tissue damage. At this time he also started to experience pain in his back and legs. The hospital staff suggested that this was muscular and provided him with pain relief medication.

He was eventually able to get an appointment with his GP, who believed he was suffering from sciatica and suggested physiotherapy.

Our client struggled a lot around his house while recovering from his injury. Household chores and looking after his five-year-old son were much more challenging at this time, and he required assistance from his girlfriend to help with this. He also couldn't enjoy going out for walks or going fishing.

In addition to this, the accident and its aftermath were very stressful for our client as it came at a time when he was undergoing counselling.

He tried returning to work after one week of absence, but was only able to complete one shift because the pain in his back and legs became severe. He therefore took another week off. As a result, he was paid sick pay during his absence and so lost out on some of his usual earnings. He also incurred additional expenses in the form of having to take taxis to work.

The settlement

Our client was able to instruct our work accident solicitors through Usdaw, his union. As was evident from our client's accident, the procedures put in place to ensure the work environment remained safe were not sufficient. Ice should not have been allowed to build up in such a way that it created a slipping hazard for employees. One of our client's colleagues was responsible for carrying out ice checks, but they hadn't made it to his aisle before the accident occurred.

We therefore proceeded to intimate a claim to his employers, who admitted liability. Our client went for an examination by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, and the resulting medical report confirmed that he'd suffered a soft tissue injury to his lower back and recommended physiotherapy sessions. After we contacted his employer, they agreed to fund six therapy sessions, which helped aid our client’s recovery.

We sent the medical report as well as a valuation to the insurance company acting on behalf of the employer, who put forward an offer of £5,487.22 in response. After discussions with our client, we decided that it would be possible to receive an increased offer and, therefore, rejected it. The insurers then put forward a further offer of £5,710 in full and final settlement. We had further discussions with our client, who confirmed he wished to accept this sum. The case was settled on 8 August 2017.

 

Home link worker injury while visiting college – August 2017

On 19 January 2017, our client, a home link worker employed by South Ayrshire Council, sustained a personal injury while visiting a college that was undergoing construction work. As a home link worker, our client is required to carry out one-to-one sessions and home visits with pupils of all ages. On this day she was visiting Marr College in Troon.

Because of the large amount of construction work that was being carried out on building, the only way to enter and exit the college was through a temporary access tunnel. The tunnel and the two doors leading from it to the construction site are made of plywood. As she was making her way through the tunnel to exit the school, she noticed that both doors were wide open, blocking her pathway.

After letting a construction worker pass, she made her way around the first door. Before she could make her way around the second door, she noticed it began to fall towards her. The accident happened very quickly, and our client didn't have time to move out of the way. Instead, she instinctively put her right hand up to protect her head and twisted her body to the left. The door collided with her right arm and shoulder and then fell on to her back. The construction worker had to pull the door off her and help her to her feet.

The consequences

Following her accident involving a falling object in the workplace, our client's right-hand side was very sore. She was unable to continue working for the rest of the day, so, after completing an accident report with the college's deputy head teacher, returned home.

She did however return to work the next day. Her return was partly due to the pressure of work, as she didn't want to leave any unfinished work before taking her scheduled annual leave the following week, and she and several colleagues were under threat of redundancy, and she felt that taking sick leave may lead to her being let go.

She also attended her GP several times because of the accident. To confirm there were no bones broken, her GP referred her to hospital for an x-ray. She had to take medication for her sciatic pain and required physiotherapy and Bowen sessions to realign her posture.

The pain in her back, shoulder, and arm continued to trouble our client in the weeks following the accident. She required assistance with household chores as they became too tough for her to do on her own, and she had difficulty sleeping. What's more, the incident also made an emotional impact, shaking her confidence and making her reluctant to leave the house out of fear of being involved in a similar accident.

Because she has annual leave scheduled anyway, she did not have to take off any days because of her injury. Needless to say, the plans that she made for her week's annual leave (visiting her son in Inverness) were ruined. She also incurred out-of-pocket expenses from travelling to and from medical appointments, and the jacket she was wearing at the time of the accident was also damaged.

The Settlement

A claim was intimated against Keir Construction, the company carrying out construction work at Marr College, with the assistance of our client's union, UNISON. Because their work had made the premises unsafe for visitors, we alleged that they were in breach of the Occupier’s Liability (Scotland) Act 1960.

The insurance company acting on behalf of Keir Construction admitted liability. On receipt of medical evidence detailing our client's injuries, they made an initial offer of £4726.90. We discussed this with our client, advising her that we felt the offer was too low, and she confirmed she was not willing to accept it. The insurers then made an increased offer of £5,000. We again discussed this with our client on 7 August 2017, and this time she confirmed she wanted to accept it.

 

Nurse's trip accident in unsafe workplace – August 2017

Our client, who was employed by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde as a staff nurse at Stobhill Hospital, was involved in a workplace accident on 16 December 2016.

She was attending her ward's office Christmas party when, at approximately 4:30pm, she received an emergency page to alert her to a fire alarm in Skye House (our client was located in McKinnon House). She proceeded to make her way to Skye House via a path running alongside a car park. This path was poorly lit. It was so dark that our client could not see the upcoming kerb, and so she fell down as she reached it. She landed on her left knee and both hands.

The consequences

At Stobhill Hospital, our client was given an x-ray, which confirmed she had fractured the fibula of her right ankle. As she couldn't put weight on her foot, she had to wear a supportive boot for six to eight weeks. Even when the boot was removed, she still could not put any weight on her foot, and she required a stick to use around the house.

The injury meant she wasn't able to leave the house that much, and she required help around the house from her partner and her daughters. She also had to be prescribed painkillers from her doctor. Overall, she was absent from work for four months following the accident but didn't sustain a loss of earnings.

The Settlement

The staff nurse instructed Thompsons personal injury solicitors through her union, UNISON.

Liability was placed on her employers, as a safe working environment has not been provided. Furthermore, they had failed to address previous complaints concerning the lighting. According to one of her colleagues who had accompanied her to Skye House, the inadequate lighting had been complained about before (lighting was finally installed in the area during our client's absence).

However, when the claim was intimated to our client’s employers, they initially repudiated liability. We therefore obtained supportive witness evidence from our client’s colleagues confirming that the area was very dark at the time of our client's accident and that lighting had now been erected in this particular area. When we forwarded this information to the employers, liability was admitted.

To help us valuate the claim, we had our client examined by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon. This confirmed that our client sustained injuries to her right ankle, left knee and left wrist. Although her knee and wrist made a full recovery after a number of weeks, she continues to experience pain in her right ankle. The medical report confirmed that this pain will be permanent.

We sent our medical report and valuation to the solicitors acting on behalf of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, who put forward an offer of £7,700 in full and final settlement. Our work accident solicitors discussed this offer with our client, and we agreed that it was too low. When we rejected it, a further offer of £8,700 compensation for our client's trip injury was put forward in full and final settlement. This offer was discussed with our client and she confirmed she wanted to accept it.

The case was settled on 2 August 2017.

 

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