Thompsons Work Accident Case Studies

Mechanical engineer's claim for hearing loss – July 2017

Between 1978 and 2015, our client was exposed to high levels of noise during the course of his employment as a marine engineer and mechanical technician for the offshore industry. Within these years, he worked for various companies, maintaining and operating boat engines and generators.

He primarily worked for Flotta Oil Terminal in Orkney throughout this time. However, as his employment was subject to TUPE transfer, his most recent employer, Wood Group (North Sea) Limited, were considered responsible for the whole of his employment, and so acted as the defender in this case.

The very high levels of noise that our client was subjected to on a regular basis led to him sustaining significant hearing loss.

What's more, prior to 1989, our client wasn't provided with any suitable ear protection. Medical examinations were also rare. Our client recalls only two examinations in the time since Wood Group became his employer in 2002. These examinations included hearing tests, with the second of these flagging up some level of hearing loss.

The Consequences

Around the time of this second hearing test, our client's condition began to affect him quite noticeably. For instance, his wife noticed that he frequently had the television on at an excessive volume, and he would often have difficulty understanding what people were saying if there was background noise.

Therefore, after his hearing test at work, he visited his GP, who referred him to hospital for a further test. This confirmed he had suffered from hearing loss in both ears and required hearing aids.

Our client retired from work in 2015, at which time his hearing had deteriorated to the point where he couldn't hear a conversation in public. Clinicians at the hospital said that his work was likely to have contributed to his condition. He therefore decided to make a compensation claim with Thompsons, instructing his work accident solicitors through his union, Unite.

The Settlement

On reviewing all the evidence that our client provided, our work accident solicitors believed that his employers were in breach of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations and had failed in their duty of care to limit exposure to unsafe levels of noise.

We intimated a claim to our client's employers but received no satisfactory response. Confident in the case's chances of success, and concerned that our client's case would soon be affected by limitation if we were to wait any longer (the defender argued that the case was time-barred because of how long our client was aware of his hearing loss before making a claim), we continued to raise action in the All Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court.

To help with the claim, we instructed a medical report by a consultant otolaryngologist, who confirmed that our client had suffered noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. We also instructed a second report from an acoustic consultant, who agreed that the development of the condition was down to the employer's negligence. He also advised that such negligent exposure continued to occur after 1989, which was when our client started to wear hearing protection and the date the defender requested as the cut-off date for the basis of the report. However, based on the medical evidence, we didn't agree to this.

Before the proof hearing, the defender informed us that it wished to instruct its own medical report. The defender's medical expert gave the opinion that the majority of our client's hearing loss was the result of ageing, not unsafe levels of noise in the workplace. We believed there was a chance the court would agree with this view, and because our client wished to avoid attending court, we pressured the employer to put forward a settlement offer.

The defender offered our client £5,000, which we believed was a similar amount to the damages the court was likely to award. We're pleased to report that our client received compensation for his condition on 28 July 2017. He was very happy with the service provided by our solicitors, and expressed his satisfaction at how helpful they had been and how well they had advised him at each stage of his claim.

 

Claim for warehouse operative's swimming pool injury – July 2017

Our client in this case, who was employed as a warehouse operative, was involved in an accident while at the Kilsyth Swimming Pool on 9 February 2017, which was a Thursday.

He had taken his two sons to the pool for swimming lessons. After they both had finished their lessons, our client decided to spend some time with them in the pool.

The flooring of the pool is made of tiles. Unknown to our client, there was a sharp edge on one of these tiles. As he stepped on the tile while trying to exit the pool, the sharp edge stabbed his right big toe, immediately causing it to bleed.

The consequences

The pool's lifeguard placed a plaster on our client's laceration injury. As he was a type-2 diabetic, our client was worried about whether he should visit the hospital. The lifeguard informed him that he only needed to go if the bleeding continued.

Therefore, our client simply returned home to rest his foot. He returned to work on the Sunday evening, where his union representative informed him that, as a type-2 diabetic, he should've gone to the hospital.

After his shift was over, our client visited the Minor Injuries Department at Stobhill Hospital. The staff there confirmed the wound had not become infected.

His foot was sore for a week following the accident, and our client took ibuprofen to help with the pain.

The discomfort meant he couldn't enjoy his main hobby, cycling, for one week, and he also struggled with any task that required standing, such as the ironing and showering.

The Settlement

The warehouse operative instructed Thompsons through his union, Usdaw. Our personal injury solicitors intimated a claim to North Lanarkshire Council, and the insurance company acting on their behalf admitted liability.

We instructed a medical report from a consultant in emergency medicine to help with our valuation of the claim. The report confirmed he'd sustained a laceration to his toe that required a recovery period of six weeks. We forwarded this report along with our valuation to the insurer, who put forward an offer of £2,100. We discussed this with our client, who felt it was fair and confirmed he wished to accept it, bringing the case to a close on 25 July 2017.

Confectionary operator injured by unnecessary risk in workplace – July 2017

On 11 May 2015, our client, Mr Mark Fulton, suffered an injury due to an unsafe working environment. At the time of this accident, Mr Fulton was employed as a confectionary operator for Greggs, based in the bakery chain's Cambuslang factory.

On this occasion, Mr Fulton was working at the fondant kettle. He had to carry fondant blocks from a trolley and place them into the kettle so they could then be heated and pass into the enrobing machine, which is at approximately waist height. There was not a lot of room for workers to walk past the enrobing machine, and so as Mr Fulton was making his way across the work area with a fondant block, he accidentally walked into a pipe attachment protruding from the machine. He instantly felt pain in his left groin.

The consequences

After an examination by a medical expert, it was confirmed Mr Fulton had sustained a soft tissue injury to his groin that would take him three months to recover from.

He didn't miss much work and only sustained a small loss of earnings, losing four hours of pay. He did, however, have to stick to light duties and still felt an occasional ache in his groin for a period of time after the accident.

The settlement

Mr Fulton instructed Thompsons' work accident solicitors through his union, Usdaw.

When we intimated the claim to our client's employer, they denied liability. Therefore, in order to support our case and prove there had been negligence on the part of the employer, we obtained supportive witness statements from Mr Fulton's colleagues. The statements confirmed there had been previous complaints made about the attachment and that there was no reason for the pipe to be protruding from the machine, meaning the employer was putting their workers at an unnecessary risk. When we presented this information to the defender, they admitted liability.

Based on the available medical evidence, the insurance company acting on behalf of Greggs first put forward an offer of £1,800 in full and final settlement. After discussions with our client, he decided to reject this offer. The defender then put forward an offer of £2,000, which, after further discussions with our expert personal injury lawyers, Mr Fulton decided he wanted to accept. The case was settled on 19 July 2017.

 

Technician's claim for broken toe – July 2017

When he suffered his workplace injury, our client, Mr John Hughes, was working for Cummins Diesel Recon as a fuel pump technician, a role which requires him to carry out a number of different tasks in the workplace.

On 8 May 2015, our client was removing an engine kit stand from the end of an assembly line. The kit was on a roller track, which is slightly raised off the ground. As he was removing the stand, it fell and landed on his right foot, causing immediate pain in his little toe.

The consequences

Right after the accident, Mr Hughes examined his toe and saw that it was black, but he decided not to go to the hospital at this stage. However, when he got home, he realised his foot was black all the way up to his ankle. He then visited Wishaw General Hospital, where the staff confirmed he'd broken his toe and advised him to visit his GP for further treatment. Unfortunately, His GP could not offer much in the way of treatment for our client's injury other than prescribe painkillers, but Mr Hughes refused these.

The injury caused the fuel pump technician to be absent from work for two weeks, during which he lost out on overtime, creating a loss in the region of £400. He also struggled around the house because he couldn't walk for one and a half weeks. During this time, his wife had to do all household tasks, such as the cooking, cleaning, ironing, and washing up.

The settlement

The pursuer instructed Thompsons work accident solicitors through his union, Unite.

Liability for the accident lay with Cummins Diesel Recon. It should have been reasonably foreseeable that not having guards in front of the items on the assembly line put them at great risk of falling off the roller track. Sufficient safety measures were clearly not enforced in a place where an accident was likely, meaning the employer had violated the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Since Mr Hughes' accident, a steel block has been put in place on the roller track, ensuring nothing can fall off it. There seems to be no reason why this steel block wasn't in place before, especially considering that other sections of the roller track were already fitted with it.

The defender – the insurance company acting on behalf of Cummins Diesel Recon – admitted liability. Thompsons' work accident solicitors sent them the medical evidence, and they made an offer of £3,000. We discussed this offer with Mr Hughes, who agreed with us that the figure was too low. In response to our rejection, the defender made an increased offer of £3,236.36. After further discussion, the member confirmed he wanted to accept this, and we reached a final settlement on 19 July 2017.

 

Receiving compensation for mobile worker's fall – July 2017

Our client, Yvonne Turnbull, was employed by the City of Edinburgh Council as a mobile worker at the time she suffered a work-related accident. Her role requires her to visit and assist people in their homes within the Leith area.

The accident occurred when Mrs Turnbull was travelling from one of her client's homes to another. She was walking down Albert Street, between Leith Walk and Easter Road.

Unknown to our client, there were uneven paving slabs on this path (this was later confirmed by her husband when he returned to the scene to take photos). As she went to put a tissue in a bin, she tripped on these slabs and fell. She put her left hand out in front of her to try to break the fall, which caused significant trauma to her left wrist, and she also hit her head.

The consequences

The fall caused Mrs Turnbull to sustain a fractured wrist and bruising to her face. The injury meant she was unable to stand without help, so she had to call a colleague to come and assist her. Her colleague then took her to the Bonnington Treatment Centre, where her wrist was placed in a plaster cast.

Our client had to wear this cast for the next six weeks and had to attend physiotherapy sessions for ten weeks.

Her trip injury suffered during work affected her daily life in several ways, even after the plaster cast came off. The ongoing pain and poor mobility in her wrist meant she struggled with ironing, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and washing herself. She therefore required help from her husband. A medical expert gave the opinion that he didn't think her symptoms would improve without further surgery, but Mrs Turnbull doesn't intend to have this further surgery.

She was also absent from work for several months, during which time she sustained some loss of earnings.

The settlement

Mrs Turnbull instructed Thompsons' personal injury solicitors through her union, UNISON. We intimated a claim to the City of Edinburgh Council, who admitted liability.

The defender put forward an offer of £6,600. We believed it was likely we could get an improved offer if we could get an updated medical report on the injury and have our client confirm her loss of earnings. However, Mrs Turnbull confirmed she was happy to accept the £6,600.

 

Social worker's claim for slip injury – July 2017

Our client, Mr David McGrory, was involved in an accident which occurred during the course of his work. At the time of his accident, he worked for the Glasgow City Council as a social worker.

On 13 December 2015, Mr McGrory was making his way home at approximately 8:30pm, walking along Lloyd Street in Whifflet, Coatbridge towards the junction with Barrowfield Street. It was raining heavily and the weather had been cold and frosty the previous evening. Even though streetlights lined the road, there were no lights at the corner, making it very dark. It was here our client encountered the slip hazard. Suddenly, Mr McGrory felt his left foot slip and lost his footing. Despite his best efforts to keep his balance, he fell to the ground, immediately feeling severe pain in his left ankle, left foot, and left leg.

After crawling over to a nearby patch of grass, he noticed what had caused him to slip: a large patch of black ice covering the pavement. The patch was created by flowing water from a burst pipe.

This route is one our client takes regularly, and he had previously realised water had been building up in this spot for a few months before the accident, yet there was nothing in place to warn him or other passers-by of the potential danger.

The consequences

As he was unable to stand, Mr McGrory had to contact his wife and ask her to drive him to Monklands Hospital, where he was given an x-ray. This x-ray confirmed he'd suffered a Weber Type C fracture of his fibula with a diastasis of the ankle and some displacement of the ankle joint. He had to have surgery the following day, where pins were put in his lower leg. After being discharged the following day, our client had to remain in a cast and required crutches for a number of weeks.

During this time he was very restricted by his injury and remained largely sedentary. His wife had to help him get washed and dressed, complete all of the household chores, and take him to and from doctors' appointments.

Our client also had to be absent from work from the date of the accident until 22 January 2016. He then needed to have further time off when he had to return to hospital on 11 February 2016 to have the screws removed. His employer paid him for the first four weeks of his absence but then paid only half-pay for the remaining two and a half weeks.

The injury to his left leg meant he also had to put all his weight on his right leg, which led to the development of tendonitis in his right knee. Unfortunately, he still experiences swelling and discomfort and has a 25% chance of developing post-traumatic arthritis.

The settlement

Liability for our Mr McGrory's fall was placed on North Lanarkshire Council. They had not placed any signs to warn passers-by of the ice, and considering how water had been building up for a while, they had more than long enough to put in the appropriate safety measures.

Mr McGrory instructed Thompsons through his union, UNISON.

Initially, when we intimated the claim to the defendant, they tried to argue contributory negligence because they believed our client to be partly responsible for his injuries. However, our trip accident solicitors refuted this, saying that there was no way our Mr McGrory could have avoided the slip hazard that led to his injury. We then proceeded to pursue a settlement on a full liability basis.

North Lanarkshire Council first made an offer of £11,388.25 with £3,064.37 repayable sick pay. However, considering the amount of suffering and pain the accident caused our client, we thought this was too low, and, after discussing the offer with Mr McGrory, we rejected it.

The defender then came back with an approved offer. After further discussions, our client agreed to this final settlement amount of £15,001.40 with £3,064.37 repayable sick pay, making a total of £18,065.77, on 13 July 2017.

 

Claim for operator injured in fall – July 2017

Our client was working as a multi-skilled operator for Babcock Marine Ltd when he suffered a workplace accident on 7 February 2016. He was based in the ship lift department, where it was his job to operate cranes, sling loads, drive a forklift, and complete many other various duties.

On the day of the accident, our client was tasked with taking down the brows, which are large gangways that take personnel from ship to shore. They are made of steel. The brows were located on the third level of the ship lift warehouse, sitting approximately 40 feet off the ground. To lift the brows, one worker needs to operate a crane while another worker travels up a walkway to the brows, climb over the handrail onto the brow, and set up the strops so the crane operator can perform the lift.

When he was climbing over the handrail, his left foot became caught in the cargo net that surrounds the brow area. When he tried to free his left foot, his right foot slipped from the rail and he fell from height onto the brow, landing on the outside of his right foot.

The consequences

The throbbing pain in his right foot meant that our client struggled to continue with his work. Eventually, after his line manager couldn't arrange a lift for him, our client had to drive himself to the hospital, where his foot was given an x-ray. The doctors told him his foot had sustained an avulsion fracture and that he'd torn the muscle and chipped the bone.

As a result, the claimant was absent from work from 7 February to 3 April 2016. He then made a phased return to work, initially starting out on half days and then gradually working up to eight-hour days.

The injury meant our client had trouble with several everyday tasks. Because he couldn't put any weight on his foot, he had to remain sedentary, which was a major inconvenience since his main hobbies include walking, cycling, and going fishing. Showering, dressing, hoovering, shopping, and preparing meals became a struggle, and he required assistance from his wife.

In addition to this, he also suffered out-of-pocket expenses and a loss of earnings in the sum of £1,658.20. He has also had to attend physiotherapy.

The Settlement

Our client instructed Thompsons work accident solicitors through his union, Unite. Because he believed there was no need for the brows to be stored so high and was wrongly instructed to climb on the handrail, our client placed the blame for his accident on his employer. There was also no risk assessment carried out on the potentially very risky task of lifting the brows, and when our client enquired about this before completing the task, his line manager informed him there was no need for such an assessment.

His employers admitted liability for his fall from height when we intimated the claim to them. To aid us in reaching a fair settlement value, Thompsons instructed a consultant orthopaedic surgeon to examine our client and make a medical report on his injuries. The report confirmed that the operator had suffered an avulsion type fracture to his cuboid and that he will experience permanent aching as a result of this injury.

We then forwarded this report to the insurance company acting on behalf of the client’s employers, and they put forward an initial offer of £7,908.20. After discussing the offer with our client, we decided that it was too low when considering the injury and amount of pain and suffering it had caused. The offer was rejected, and this led to the insurer putting forward a more reasonable offer of £8,500 in full and final settlement. After further discussion, we confirmed this offer was fair on the basis of the medical evidence available. Our client advised he wanted to accept the offer and the case was settled on 12 July 2017.

 

Compensation for paramedic's fall injury – July 2017

On 18 October 2014, our client, a paramedic with the Scottish Ambulance Service, became the victim of a workplace accident.

To enter the rear of the ambulance our client had to walk up a set of stairs next to a ramp. On the day of the incident, as she was almost in the ambulance, she placed her right hand on the handrail which completely collapsed, causing her to fall and hit the ramp on her right side.

The consequences

The Paramedic's fall caused deep bruising to her right side, including her right hip/pelvic area, rib cage, shoulder, and arm.

To help with the recovery from these injuries, she attended a course of physiotherapy through her occupational health department. She also had to take time off work, which resulted in a loss of wages.

The settlement

The employee was a member of UNISON and was referred to Thompsons in April 2015. We made the claim against her employer on the basis that they had failed to maintain the equipment in working order so that it was safe for employees to use. The employer was therefore in breach of several workplace regulations, including the Employers' Liability (Defective Equipment) Act 1969, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

However, the Scottish Ambulance service refused liability because, they said, the handrail is unrelated to the stairs and is not designed for use in connection with the stairs. They proposed that our client should have known the handrails were defective and that she had a duty not to use them when using the stairs.

Confident her case still had a high chance of success, Thompsons' work accident solicitors continued with investigations, although we accepted there was likely to be an element of contributory negligence. We instructed a medical report from a professor of orthopaedic trauma, which showed our client had sustained injury to the lumbar spine and chest wall and that existing problems with her spine were exacerbated by the fall.

After receiving this medical evidence, we raised a court action in the All Scotland Personal Injury Court, and the Central Legal Office (CLO) – the organisation providing legal assistance for NHS Scotland – submitted a settlement tender in the sum of £2,500. We felt this was too low to sufficiently compensate for our client's pain and suffering and so advised her to reject the offer and to make a pursuer's offer of £6,000. The CLO did not accept this and lodged an increased tender of £4,000, but, as we felt this was still too low, we continued negotiations.

When the CLO yet again rejected our client's subsequent offers, we proceeded to arrange a pre-trial meeting. Aware of how much a pre-trial meeting would cost, the CLO agreed to pay £4,500. This was accepted and the claim was settled on 10 July 2017.

 

Machine operator’s hand and wrist injury claim – July 2017

On 8 September 2016 our client, a 45-year-old machine operator, was nearing the end of her shift at a biscuit factory in Lanarkshire when, after clearing up some crumbs which had fallen from the machine, she placed a broom against a metal-framed whiteboard which hangs from a support pillar in the factory.

However, as she was walking away, the whiteboard fell, striking the woman on her non-dominant hand and wrist. A colleague saw the accident take place and several others heard the crash of it falling to the floor.

The consequences

Our client went home following her shift, took painkillers and placed a bag of frozen peas on the site of her injury.

The next morning, she realised she was in considerable pain, could not carry her shopping and had developed significant swelling and bruising around her hand and wrist.

On attending work that afternoon, she was advised by her Health and Safety Manager to attend Accident and Emergency at Monkland’s Hospital, Airdrie, where she had an x-ray which confirmed no break or fracture. However, consultants at the hospital diagnosed soft tissue and tendon damage and provided the woman with a sling.

Pain and discomfort in the weeks immediately following the accident caused her to lose out on overtime, restricted her ability to perform household tasks and meant she was unable to enjoy swimming in her free time.

The settlement

The 45-year-old instructed Thompsons Personal Injury Solicitors through her union. Her employer’s insurance company shortly afterwards admitted liability for the accident involving a falling object.

A medical report from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon confirmed the extent of the pursuer’s injury, including tendon damage and soft tissue bruising over the dorsal aspect of her wrist. It recommended a six-month period of recovery.

As the insurance company failed to provide us with suitable settlement proposals, court proceedings were raised in the All Scotland Personal Injury Court. Eventually a £3,800 full and final settlement was negotiated and accepted on 6 July 2017.

 

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