Client's trip because of unsafe construction work

On 7 January 2015, Heather Gray, our client, was involved in a trip accident. She was working as a team leader in the health and social care department of the City of Edinburgh Council.

Our client had gone out for a walk in the evening. It was raining and dark at this time. There was lighting on the street, but it wasn't very effective. On this particular occasion, her route involved walking along Balmwell Terrace.

At this time, work was being carried out on the road by Hart Builders Limited, which included a resurfacing of the pavement. As a result of the construction work, the metal frame of a utility hole on the pavement had buckled from pressure, and its cover no longer fit properly.

As Mrs Gray placed her left foot on the lid, it moved and her leg fell straight through. She fell forward on to her hands, with both legs going down the hole. The cover flipped over, piercing her right thigh. As her right knee was trapped against the frame, she was unable to pull herself up. It took approximately ten minutes for her to be able to reach her phone and call her husband. Her husband, as well as a couple who had stopped their car to help, finally managed to free her from the utility hole.

The Consequences

Our client contacted the police and the council about the incident. However, despite her efforts to alert them to the danger, nothing was done to fix the hole. They only put up a sign, which soon blew down.

Mrs Gray visited her GP to have her injury checked. Her thigh was badly bruised and she had a laceration that was at risk of becoming infected. Her hamstring was also injured and she required physiotherapy for this.

The injury to her right thigh took one year to fully heal, although the worst symptoms were mostly resolved in two months. She also had pain in her left ankle, which subsided after ten days.

As she was already off work recovering from an unrelated health issue, she didn't need to take any time off work because of her injury, but it still affected her, causing her to limp for about a week.

The Settlement

Mrs Gray instructed our work accident solicitors through her union, ASLEF. We intimated our client's trip injury claim to Hart Builders Limited on the grounds of common law.

The defender put forward an initial offer of £2,000. Mrs Gray agreed with our solicitors that this was too low. We therefore rejected it on her behalf. This then started a process where we made a number of counter-proposals, and we eventually reached a final settlement of £3,250, which took into account her pain and suffering as well as her treatment costs, on 27 August 2017.

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