Planning office manager's back and neck injury

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.

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