Customer assistant's slip accident in unsafe freezer

Our client instructed Thompsons’ work accident solicitors through her union, Usdaw, following an accident at her workplace that caused her to sustain an injury.

As a customer assistant employed by Tesco, it was our client’s job to fill the freezers, taking in deliveries and ensuring the freezers are fully stocked. On 19 June 2016, she was nearing the end of her shift, having just worked all through the night, when the incident occurred.

She had just finished taking in the deliveries and was now tidying up the shelves. Because she noticed there were some spaces in the freezer where some missing items should go, she started to make her way to the large freezer in the back area of the supermarket, which stores all the frozen items.

There is a plastic curtain directly inside the large freezer once the door is slid open. The curtain had been damaged at the top, allowing ice to gather there and then fall to the floor. As soon as our client entered the freezer, her foot slipped on the ice, and she fell straight on her back. Her left arm hit a small metal barrier on the floor just outside the freezer, and she also hit her head on the floor. After she managed to get to her feet, she noticed the ball of ice that had caused her fall.

The consequences

Our client went to fill out an accident report while she was suffering a lot of pain in her head, left arm, and hip. She then returned home, took some pain relief medication, and went to bed. But when she awoke, the pain had become worse. She visited her GP the next day for an examination. Her GP provided her with a sick line and pain relief medication for a muscular injury.

The pain continued to worsen, leading to our client seeking further medical care from the A&E department at Monklands Hospital. The doctor there confirmed she had not punctured her lung, which had been previously feared by her GP, but that she had pulled a muscle.

The pain eventually subsided, but during the recovery period, our client had difficulty doing household work, such as hoovering and preparing meals, and could not enjoy gardening (one of her main hobbies).

Overall, the customer assistant was absent from her work for two weeks, but she didn't incur any loss of earnings during this time.

The settlement

Slip accidents at work are extremely common, and Thompsons' work accident solicitors have a lot of experience with handling these types of cases and were confident of our client's chances of success. This was because numerous complaints had been previously made about the ice by our client's colleagues, but wasn't until after our client's accident that the curtain was fixed. By not fixing he curtain sooner, the employer hadn't provided their employees with a safe workplace, and this gave us strong grounds for making a successful claim.

Thompsons intimated a claim to our client's employees, and the insurance company acting on their behalf admitted liability. To help us value the claim so we could receive a fair settlement for our client, we had them examined by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon. The report confirmed she sustained a closed minor head injury and soft tissue bruising to her chest and right buttock. The report allowed for an eight-week period of recovery.

This information was sent to the insurance company, who responded by putting forward an initial offer of £2,200 in full and final settlement. We discussed this with our client, who, agreeing it was too low, rejected it. The insurer then put forward an increased offer of £2,700, which our client confirmed she wished to accept, and we settled the case on 21 August 2017.

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