Thompsons Work Accident Case Studies

NHS worker's injured back due to unsafe workplace – April 2017

At the time of his accident on 13 June 2016, our client was working as a hospital porter for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. His job required him to carry out several different tasks, including transferring patients and equipment between Gartnavel Hospital and the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. There is a corridor linking these two locations through which our client travels.

On the day of sustaining his injury, our client was transporting breakfast trolleys with the use of a tug machine, a three-wheeled electric machine that the trolleys can hook on to. The operator of the tug machine has to remain standing and the vehicle has no suspension, which increases the potential risk of injury if the vehicle is ever jolted. Our client was making his way back and forth along the corridor, dropping off trolleys with a colleague at the Beatson side of the corridor (who would then take them further in a lift) and then returning to pick more trolleys up from the Gartnavel side.

The link corridor has some sections of floor in very poor condition. Wires and cables are laid across the floor, and these have metal coverings over them. The metal coverings were originally covered by vinyl, the same material as the hospital flooring, which helped smooth them out, but this has worn away over the years, leaving a hazardous metal bump on the floor. The workers have become aware of this hazard, knowing to lean forward when travelling over the bump so they reduce the chance of injury.

This time, however, our client did not lean forward (because he was busy looking around to make sure he didn't hit anyone), and going over the bump caused sudden pain in his lower back.

The consequences

After reporting his injury, our client returned to his shift despite still feeling much discomfort. But the pain soon worsened, and the next day he called in sick because he was unable to move when he woke up. His GP examined him and informed him he'd damaged his muscles, providing him with a sick line and a prescription for painkillers. He also referred himself to physiotherapy. Tasks around his home became very difficult; made worse by the fact he lives up three flights of stairs. This meant he couldn't leave home to do shopping. His wife had to go this on her own.

He was initially absent from work from 14 June to 18 June, but he then had to take off a much longer period from 20 June. While absent, our client was paid his basic wage but lost the opportunity to carry out overtime.

The settlement

Because they were aware of the hazard but had not taken any steps to correct it, our client's employer was liable for the accident. As the inadequately maintained floor service meant that an accident was reasonably foreseeable, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was in violation of the Management of Health and Safety at work Regulations 1999 and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. They had also not provided our client with adequate training on the tug machine, and making sure all employees have appropriate training is another requirement employers must meet to ensure a safe working environment.

The hospital porter instructed Thompsons' work accident solicitors through his union, UNISON.

The defender, the insurers acting on behalf of NHS Greater Glasgow, admitted liability. Our work accident solicitors sent them the medical evidence of our client's injury, and they made an offer of £2,100. We advised our client to reject this offer as we felt it was too low. Our rejection led to the insurer making an increased offer of £2,600, which, after further discussion, our client accepted.

 

Hand crushing injury compensation claim – April 2017

At the time of sustaining an injury at work, our client worked for the Scottish National Blood Transfusion service as a donor carer.

On this particular occasion, on 19 June 2014, our client was helping unload equipment from a lorry into Auchterarder Community Church Centre for a donor day. The equipment was placed in roll cages that the staff had to transport from the lorry and into the main hall via an access ramp. The ramp had a 180-degree turn halfway up, and there was a row of wood and metal pillars running alongside the top part of the ramp.

One of the cages our client had to move was filled with metal beds. The cages have recessed handles so the person moving the cage doesn't have to have their hands exposed at the sides, but because of the way the beds were stacked on this particular cage, these handles were covered, putting our client at risk.

After she carefully made her way to the top of the ramp with the cage (she was pulling as a colleague pushed), she then needed to make another turn to her right. As she did this, her left hand got caught between the cage and a pillar and was crushed.

The consequences

The impact caused our client immediate pain. Colleagues gave her an ice pack, and she continued with her shift. After she'd finished work – at which time her fingers were black and bruised and she had a large swelling on the back of her left hand – she went to the A&E department at Ninewells Hospital, where staff asked why it took her so long to seek medical treatment. They gave her an x-ray and confirmed that our client's crush accident had resulted in a broken bone in her left hand.

For about six to eight weeks after the accident happened, our client required assistance with daily tasks at home, and she was unable to drive for an even longer period. She was absent from work from the date of the accident (19 June) until 5 October. She had more absences after this due to her injury, but she didn't incur any loss of earnings.

The settlement

A claim was intimated with the help of our client's union, UNISON.

Our client blamed her employer for the accident because she should have been able to safely use the handles the way they were intended, minimising her risk of injuring her hands. Although the Scottish National Transfusion Blood Service has since changed the way beds are stacked in cages so they don't pose the same risk to workers, their actions unfortunately came too late for our client, who still experiences pain because of her injury.

The defender agreed to deal with the case and made an initial offer of £2750, which they then increased to £5,000. However, dissatisfied with this figure when considering the amount of suffering the injury had caused the client, our work accident solicitor advised the client to litigate the case.

This led to the defender putting forward an improved offer of £10,000. After discussing the offer, we again decided to reject it. Eventually, on 12 April 2017, we reached a final settlement of £12,500 for our client's crush injury – a sum almost ten times the initial offer.

 

Maintenance engineer's claim for head injury – April 2017

On 3 April 2016, our client, who worked as a maintenance engineer for Muller Wiseman Dairies, was involved in a workplace accident. He'd worked in this position for a period of eight years, so it was a role in which he'd gained a lot of experience. The job required our client to help ensure a smooth-running factory by carrying out routine maintenance and attending to breakdowns.

On the day of the accident, our client was asked to attend to a job inside the filling machine, which is made of stainless steel with doors that have steel edges. Climbing inside a filling machine was something our client had done before, and he had been fully trained to carry out his job.

The machine's doors are three to four feet off the ground, so a worker must use steps to allow for easier access. Our client walked up the steps, slid the doors open, and proceeded to move forward into the machine's interior, but as he tried to do so he caught his head on a sharp edge protruding from the doorframe.

The impact knocked him unconscious.

The consequences

When our client came to, he felt immediate pain in his head and neck. He had fallen and landed at the bottom of the steps and was in a state of confusion. As he managed to get to his feet, he was shocked to realise blood dripping down from his head and onto his neck.

After the head injury victim visited his workplace's first aid room, where his wound was cleaned and plastered, a colleague took him to the A&E department of Monklands Hospital in Airdrie. The medical staff glued the laceration together and provided our client with pain relief medication.

Our client was then discharged from hospital and tried to return to work, but his head was still sore and he felt very dizzy. After just 30 minutes of trying to continue work, he had to leave and go home.

A visit to his GP confirmed he was suffering from post-concussion syndrome, a condition that caused the claimant to experience dizziness, a lack of concentration, and difficulty sleeping.

The pain caused a number of difficulties in the weeks following the accident. Our client had trouble bending over, which made many household tasks very hard to carry out, and his dependence on his fiancé meant he suffered panic attacks whenever he was in the house alone. He also couldn't play golf, go to the gym, or attend the sauna during the recovery period, nor could he drive for a few days after the accident.

It took about eight weeks for our client's head injury to heal, and he was absent from work for five weeks. During this time, he incurred a loss of earnings because he was not paid for his first three shifts and only paid company sick pay for the remaining time. He also lost out on overtime and shift allowance. Because he didn't receive his full wage, he missed several payments, which led to him incurring bank charges.

The settlement

The claimant was able to instruct Thompsons' work accident solicitors through his union, Usdaw.

A claim was intimated to Muller Wiseman Dairies, who admitted liability for the incident. They were believed to be at fault because they should've made sure the door's metal frame had no protruding sharp edges that could lead to a worker sustaining a cut injury to their head.

We instructed a medical professional to carry out a report on our client's injuries, which we sent to the defender (the insurance company representing the employer). The medical report confirmed the engineer had suffered a closed head injury and that he was experiencing post-concussion symptoms. It also allowed for an 8-month recovery period. Upon receipt of this information, the insurers put forward an offer of £4,000.

However, our work accident solicitors discussed this figure with our client and came to the agreement that it was too low. We therefore rejected it, and a further offer of £4,300 was put forward in full and final settlement. Our client confirmed that he wished to accept this offer, settling the case on 7 April 2017.

 

Claiming compensation for nursing assistant's fall – April 2017

On 25 October 2013 our client, who was at the time employed by the Greater Glasgow Health Board as a nursing auxiliary, suffered a fall while at work. She had been with her employer for a period of 32 years.

As a nursing auxiliary, our client's job required her to look after patients and assist the trained nurses in their tasks.

On this particular occasion, she was helping a registered nurse give a patient a bed bath. The nurse emphasised the need to get the job done quickly because she had other patients to see.

Because she was rushing, our client's colleague did not properly remove the bed cradle, which is a metal frame used to raise bed covers so they don't cause irritation for patients with ulcers or skin diseases. Instead, the bed cradle was left hanging off the bed.

The nurse finished washing the patient and left our client to tidy up the patient's room, telling her again to hurry up. As our client was tidying the room, she tripped over the bed cradle and fell onto her left side on the concrete floor.

The consequences

The impact of the fall left our client with pain in her left shoulder, hip, and knee. As the accident happened near the end of her shift on a Friday, our client went home and took pain relief medication over the weekend. However, the pain soon became worse, and by the Sunday she was unable to move her shoulder.

She went to the Minor Injuries Department of the hospital where she worked to have her shoulder x-rayed. She was diagnosed with soft tissue injury and booked in for a series of emergency physiotherapy sessions.

Following a subsequent visit to her GP, she was prescribed pain relief medication and given a 'sick line'. Our client's injury led to her being absent from work for a total of seven weeks (she was paid her basic wage during this time and did not lose out on overtime or shift allowance).

Following the accident, our client's left arm and shoulder were very sore, causing her significant pain and discomfort. The pain meant she was unable to lift anything heavy and struggled to complete a number of essential daily tasks (dressing, hoovering, showering, shopping, etc.), so her two sons and niece had to help with these activities. She also couldn't look after her great nieces and nephews for a period of time – something she very much enjoyed doing. She incurred out-of-pocket expenses when taking taxis to her medical appointments.

The settlement

The work accident compensation claim was made with the assistance of our client's union, UNISON.

Our client placed liability for the accident on her colleague, who should have safely removed the bed cradle and put it in a safe place instead of leaving it hanging off the bed, a very hazardous position that caused an obstruction which led to a trip accident.

To protect our client's position, Thompsons raised proceedings in the All Scotland Personal Injury Court. The claim was not brought to us until August 2016, at which time the claimant was examined by a Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon who confirmed she'd suffered a genuine injury.

After we lodged our valuation with the court, an offer of £1,500 was put forward in full and final settlement. We discussed this with our client and decided to reject it. Another offer of £2,000 was put forward and rejected before we finally received an offer – of £2,500 – that our work accident solicitors and our client agreed was fair. The offer was accepted on 7 April 2017.

 

Glasgow machine operative injury – April 2017

On the afternoon of the 5th of August 2016 our client attended work at Tunnock's in Glasgow where she is employed as a machine operative.

On the day of her accident she was engaged in the preparation of caramel. This involves working in the boiler section. On the day, one of the kettles used in this process had finished boiling and was in the process of cooling when our client noticed a light had come on.

Under the pursuer's usual working conditions this light indicated that the caramel was coming through the pipes and into the kettle; a potentially dangerous situation as this can result in overspill of hot liquid. Concerned about this possibility, the pursuer lifted the lid of the kettle in order to check the situation. It was in doing this that steam from the caramel solution rose from the kettle and up her sleeve, scalding her arm and wrist.

She immediately informed her supervisor of the accident, who told her to put her arum under cold running water. She continued to work throughout the day but found doing so very difficult and regularly had to immerse her scald injury into a bucket of cold water.

The consequences

Our client attempted to attend work again the following day but soon had to leave as the burn on her arm had become a wound and was leaking. She then attended A&E.

The injury forced our client to be absent from work for four weeks, during which time she suffered significant pain and, with the exception of a single day during the final week of this period, was unable to drive.

Additionally, the scald injury meant that she was unable to enjoy her regular hobby of darts.

A medical report from a consultant in emergency medicine confirmed that the woman had sustained a partial thickness burn over her right wrist and stated that this would require a four month period of recovery.

The settlement

Following the machinery accident, the operative instructed Thompsons work accident solicitors through her union and, after receiving details of the claim from us, her employers admitted liability.

In April 2017, the pursuer accepted an offer of £4,822.75 as full and final settlement.

 

NHS car park slip accident case study – April 2017

On the morning of the 15th of August 2015, the pursuer, a 49-year-old Radiology Support Worker with NHS Tayside, arrived for work and parked her car in the official car park at Ninewells Hospital.

The car park had recently been resurfaced and new paint had been applied to the walkways. However, this resurfacing and repainting work had not been done to a safe standard. This meant that the walkway provided insufficient grip and was very slippery. As a result, the pursuer slipped and fell, injuring her shoulder in the process.

Our client was not the only person to fall as a result of the hazardous walkway; in fact, up to 12 people suffered falls in the car park in similar circumstances, including two of our client's colleagues.

The consequences

The fall left the pursuer in considerable pain and she was shortly afterward diagnosed with torn tendons in her left shoulder

Although she received surgery to her damaged shoulder, the injury has had lasting consequences. For example, she had to find alternative work with her NHS Trust, developed difficulties in performing simple tasks such as brushing her own hair, and received steroid injections for her pain.

The settlement

The car park in which the pursuer sustained her injuries is operated by a third party contractor. There was an Occupier's Liability case against the owners of the car park as well as a Workplace Regulations case against the woman's employers.

Both defenders' denied liability for slip accident compensation, which meant that Thompsons solicitors decided to litigate against the two.

An initial offer of £6,000 was turned down. However, a later offer of £9,000 was accepted as a full and final settlement in April 2017. This provided slip accident compensation for the injury itself as well as the costs of various services expenses incurred by the pursuer.

 

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