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Thompsons Work Accident Case Studies

DWP employee’s scald injury claim – July 2017

On 3 February 2016 our client, an account developer for the Department for Work and Pensions was nearing the end of her 8.30am to 4pm shift when, after making a cup of tea, her left-hand was scalded by boiling water pouring from a tap which had been left on in the staff kitchen.

Our client's hand blistered almost immediately. A first-aider came to her assistance and helped run the scald injury under a cold tap. She was advised to attend accident and emergency but, feeling too unwell to drive all the way there herself, received a lift from her sister-in-law.

Once at hospital she had her wound examined and dressed, was given pain-relieving medication and told to attend her GP for further assessment.

The consequences

The scald injury left the woman unable to drive for one and a half weeks following the accident, restricted her ability to perform everyday household tasks, prevented her from playing golf for a period and has left a large area of discolouration on her arm. As such, she decided to instruct Thompsons personal injury solicitors through her union, the Public and Commercial Services Union.

The settlement

We instructed a consultant in emergency medicine to examine our client. His report confirmed that she had sustained a partial thickness burn over her left forearm. It allowed for a three-month period of recovery.

This medical report and valuation was sent to the insurance company. They put forward an offer of £1,500 in full and final settlement. This offer was discussed but rejected. A second offer of £1,800 was put forward as a full and final settlement. This was discussed and accepted on 5 July 2017.


Head injury claim – July 2017

On 19 May 2016 our client, a 52-year-old full-time clerical worker at Inverclyde Royal Hospital, was shopping at Morrisons supermarket in Greenock when, returning to her car from the trolley bay, she tripped on an uneven section of the car park ground surface.

The incident caused her to fall, sustaining injuries to her knees, her right wrist, her upper lip and her chin.

The consequences

The incident left the pursuer in immediate shock. She was in pain, crying and embarrassed.

In the immediate aftermath of the trip accident, the 52-year-old was attended by a first aider who helped clean her wounds and suggested a visit to Accident and Emergency. Shortly afterwards she was driven to Inverclyde Royal Hospital by her husband where she had her injuries examined.

Following x-rays, doctors at the hospital ruled out any breaks or fractures but diagnosed the woman with a concussion head injury; she was told to avoid too much computer or television use and not to read for any long periods. Additionally, she was told that her head injury symptoms could last for several weeks.

This proved true. The pursuer was unable to drive her car for a week following the accident and, once she was able to, could manage only short journeys. Furthermore, she did not return to work until 4 July and even several months after the accident was suffering from reduced confidence as well as a constant fear of tripping and falling.

The settlement

The pursuer instructed Thompsons slip injury solicitors through her Union and we intimated a claim alleging breaches of common law with reference to the Occupier’s Liability (Scotland) Act 1960.

Liability was admitted and we provided a medical report to support the claim. An initial offer of £2,300 was put forward. However, this was too low and did not suitably compensate the woman for either her injuries or her expenses, which included the cost of a replacement pair of spectacles.

Eventually the defender made a revised offer of £3,000 and confirmed that they would pay a third party sick claim separate to this. The pursuer was satisfied with this and on 5 July 2017 accepted it as a full and final settlement.


Compensation for road worker's HAVS diagnosis – July 2017

Our client, Mr Robert Watt, had developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), which he attributed to his job as a road worker for the City of Edinburgh Council.

Throughout his career, Mr Watt has been employed in several roles that require him to use potentially risky machinery, such as a jack hammer, electric drills, and road saws, for long periods of time, continuously exposing himself to vibration.

In 2008, he started working for the City of Edinburgh Council. As a road worker, his time was split between driving a road paver and completing manual labour work, which also requires the use of vibrating tools (predominantly the jackhammer).

Not long after starting his employment as a road worker, Mr Watt started experiencing numbness and tingling in his fingers.

The consequences

Mr Watt received health check-ups at work and so mentioned his symptoms to the occupational health doctor in 2009. At this point, his symptoms were only mild, and he only experienced them at night. The same year, the occupational health service informed him that he had stage 1 HAVS.

In 2011, our client's symptoms worsened. The tingling had become more noticeable, and his hand would often feel numb. Eventually, his hands became cold all the time, and he lost his grip strength.

What's more, Mr Watt also began to realise that his fingers would occasionally turn white then red when using the tools and that this discolouration could last up to ten minutes after he stopped using them. When his fingers were white, he could not grip anything.

He was diagnosed with stage 2 HAVS in 2012, but even at this point, the nature of his work didn't change; he was still expected by his employer to use the tools in the same way as before. It wasn't until 2014 that an occupational health doctor recommended that he avoid the use of vibrating tools.

The loss of grip meant he struggled to play golf – his favourite hobby – and pressing buttons was also difficult. Any task that required a firm grip, such as opening jars and bottles, and handling small, fiddly items, such as tying his laces and fastening shirt buttons, became a challenge, and he required his wife's help with these.

The settlement

Mr Watt instructed Thompsons' solicitors through his union, UNISON. He had previously sought legal help from another law firm, but he was dissatisfied with the service he received.

We were able to obtain the client's case file from the previous law firm he dealt with and used this information as a starting point. Because Mr Watt was diagnosed with his condition over three years ago, our work accident solicitors realised that they wouldn't be able to claim compensation from any of his earlier employers as the three-year time limit had already passed. Instead, we were only able to claim against his current employer.

To help with the claim, we obtained his full medical records and instructed a medical report from a vascular surgeon, which, in contrast to the unsupportive medical report obtained by the previous law firm dealing with Mr Watt's case, confirmed he had suffered from HAVS at Stage 0V and 3SN on the Stockholm Scale.

When this supportive evidence was forwarded to the defender, they denied liability, arguing that our client had only low exposure to vibration. Confident that the case had a strong chance of success, we continued to pursue the case through the All Scotland Personal Injury Court. We also instructed a further report on liability from a principal consultant at Hu Tech. This report concluded it was likely the employer's negligence contributed to Mr Watt's injury.

The defender eventually accepted they had put their employee at risk and put forward an offer of £6,000 personal injury compensation. We believed that we could receive a more valuable offer and so continued with negotiations. The defender then put forward an increased offer of £8,000, which Mr Watt confirmed he wanted to accept on 4 July 2017. Our client was pleased to settle the case and was very happy with the service he received.


Slaughterman's claim for stab injury at work – July 2017

At the time of the accident, our client was working as a slaughterman in Ayrshire. He carried out a variety of jobs at different points on the production line.

On the 3 October 2014, our client had to skin the forelegs of a cow. The animal was hooked up to the production line which allows the carcasses to move around the slaughterhouse, coming to a stop by the appropriate workers. When this particular cow arrived at our client's station, its forelegs were still closed. Our client had to open the cow's forelegs before skinning the limbs, and this was not the way he had been trained to carry out the task.

The cow was also covered in contamination (cow dung) that had gone hard, making the job much more problematic. As our client was trying to skin the forelegs, his knife became stuck in the hardened contamination. He then tried to force the knife free, but applying the extra pressure caused him to accidentally stab himself in the right leg just above his knee.

The consequences

Our client was driven to the hospital by a colleague immediately after the incident. The hospital staff cleaned and stitched up his wound. He had to return to hospital a week later to have the stitches removed.

Following the accident, our client had to keep his leg straight and not get it wet, which made it very difficult for him to wash and complete everyday tasks around the house, such as cooking. His fiancée had to help him get dressed for several days after the accident. His injury meant he was absent from work for one day, for which he did not get paid.

The settlement

Our client placed liability for the accident on his employer. He claimed that the protective equipment and clothing his employer provided him with was not adequate for his role and that he had not received full training to carry out all the necessary duties. Previously, there had been a number of similar incidents as well as many complaints concerning the contamination of the carcasses, but the employer failed to take the necessary steps to improve the issue.

The claim was intimated with Thompsons following a referral from the man's union, USDAW. His employers initially denied liability, putting forward the argument that they had provided our client with sufficient training to deal with such a scenario safely.

We obtained a medical report detailing the extent of our client's injuries and took the case to the All Scotland Personal Injury Court. However, shortly before the pre-trial meeting, the defenders made an offer of £2,000 in full and final settlement. The claimant discussed this with Thompsons' work accident solicitors, who advised him that the offer was too low, and he rejected it.

We then made a counter proposal of £3,500, a sum we felt fair considering the amount of suffering the injury had caused our client. The defenders accepted this counter proposal, and our client confirmed he would accept this offer. Settlement occurred on 4 July 2017.


Compensation for warehouse operative's injured back – July 2017

Our client, Richard Hutson, was working as a warehouse operative for the Co-operative group in Lanarkshire at the time of his accident.

His job requires him to carry out a number of tasks. On 22 June 2016, he was working in the chill grid, which is a large room containing many cages filled with goods. Mr Hutson had to move the cages, which are on wheels, to the appropriate place where they'd be picked up.

When he went to pull one cage from its original position, it suddenly started to fall forward. Mr Hutson and a fellow colleague managed to prevent the cage from crashing to the ground and get it upright, but in doing so our client unfortunately caused damage to his back. It was then that the cause of the cage's unstableness became apparent: it was missing one of its front wheels.

Right after the incident, Mr Hutson reported the faulty cage to the marshalling desk and to a health and safety colleague. He didn't receive any immediate treatment for his injury and went to work the next day as usual. However, after several hours into his shift he began to experience considerable pain in his lower and mid back. A first aider on site examined him and told him he was not fit to work.

The consequences

The next day, Mr Hutson's back pain continued to worsen. He visited his GP, who told him he had strained a muscle in his back and provided him with a sick line for three weeks as well as a prescription for painkillers.

Mr Hutson returned to work after the three-week period. He didn't suffer any loss of earnings during his absence. However, he had been told by his GP that he should take further time off, but this would have resulted in a loss of earnings, which our client couldn't afford to do.

Household tasks, such as shopping, preparing meals, hoovering, ironing, and gardening, became much more difficult for Mr Hutson following the accident, and he was unable to complete them for a number of weeks, requiring help from his mother and partner. He was also unable to drive for over a month after the accident and felt he had an adverse reaction to the painkillers.

The settlement

Mr Hutson instructed Thompsons Solicitors through his union, USDAW, and initiated a work accident claim against his employer. Our client blamed his employer for the accident because they had failed to provide him with safe equipment and were therefore in violation of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The problem was also made worse because the cage had been overstacked with heavy items, causing the unsteady cage to be an even larger hazard. Mr Hutson is aware that there have been similar accidents in the past caused by missing wheels and that, since his accident, his employer has failed to implement changes to prevent other incidents from occurring in the future. His employer was also deemed vicariously liable for the actions of the employee who built the cage and didn't notice that a wheel was missing.

The defendant admitted liability and, upon receipt of the medical evidence detailing our client's injuries, made an offer of £1,500. Our work accident solicitors advised Mr Hutson that this was a fair offer, and he confirmed he wanted to accept it.


Radial Fracture Work Injury Claim – June 2017

On the morning of 25 June 2016 our client, a woman from Glasgow, attended her job at Poundland in the city where she suffered a workplace accident when she trod on a piece of chewing gum that had been discarded near some stairs close to the location of her locker. The action of the chewing gum sticking to her foot and then coming loose caused her to slip over.

The consequences

The 40-year-old sales assistant fell onto her right arm. Although she experienced pain in the limb, she took two paracetamol and tried to finish her shift. However, around midday on the day of the workplace slip accident it became clear that the pain was too much and our client decided to attend the Accident and Emergency Department at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Once there she received an x-ray and was subsequently told that she had fractured the inside of her of her forearm at the point of the radial head. Her arm was placed in a sling and she was told to attend hospital again one week later.

During this second consultation she was informed that the fracture might not heal properly. Following a third examination of her arm, two weeks later, the pursuer was informed that she would need an operation to shave down the bone in her arm.

The injury resulted in her missing several months of work, during which time she received only statutory sick pay. It also caused the pursuer difficulties in performing household tasks and looking after her two children.

The settlement

The pursuer instructed Thompsons' personal injury lawyers through her union, Usdaw. On receiving notification of the claim, legal representatives of Poundland admitted liability.

A medical report by a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon confirmed that the pursuer had sustained a fracture to her radial head and recommended an 18-month period of recovery.

An initial offer of £13,100 was put forward in full and final settlement. This offer was discussed with the pursuer and then rejected. A further offer of £14,600 was put forward, which was then accepted.


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