Admin clerk suffers sprained ankle because of wet floor

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.

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