Incident leading to Co-Operative employee's head injury

Our client, who suffered a head and neck injury as the result of a disorderly customer on 20 August 2016, was working as a customer team member at a Co-Operative Food.

Her role generally required her to be situated at the shop's kiosk, where she has to serve customers when they are purchasing lottery tickets, cigarettes, general groceries, and alcohol.

When she was nearing the end of her Saturday-afternoon shift, a male customer, who was noticeably intoxicated, entered the shop. The customer made his way to the alcohol section and took a pack of beer cans and two wine bottles from the shelves. When he arrived at the kiosk, our client explained to him that she couldn't serve him because he was already in a drunken state, and to do so would be against the law. She proceeded to take the bottles of wine from him and bent to her left-hand side to place them out of the way.

However, as she was bent over, the customer, who was unhappy that he'd been refused service, hit her over the head with the four-pack of beer and then walked away.

It should be noted that at this stage of the afternoon, our client's managers had already left, leaving her on the shop floor alone.

The Consequences

Left in shock from this sudden attack, our client started calling for help. Two colleagues, who had been in the back of the store, came to her assistance. Her colleagues called the police to the scene, and our client gave a statement. Extremely upset because of the incident, our client refused the police's offer to take her to the hospital and instead texted her sister to come and take her home.

But when she awoke the next morning with a painful headache, she decided to go to the hospital. The staff there examined her and confirmed she had bruising and a bump but no lacerations or a concussion. They prescribed her with painkillers.

She also saw her GP, who provided her with a sick line note. In total, the incident caused our client to miss four weeks of work. She was paid most of her wages for the days missed but, rather unfairly, wasn't paid for the Sunday immediately following the day of her injury (our client thinks this may be because she didn't take her sick line note into work until the following Monday).

Her injury meant she couldn't attend her weekly Zumba class for five weeks.

The Settlement

The head injury compensation claim was made with the help of our client's union, Usdaw, through whom our client was able to instruct our work accident solicitors.

The claim was intimated to her employer on the basis that they could have helped prevent such an incident from happening by employing a security guard. A security guard would have prevented the drunken customer from entering the shop in the first place, but because her employers considered the shop to be low-risk, they hadn't done this. Her employer also failed to carry out a risk assessment in relation to this type of incident in the workplace. Her colleagues should also not have left her alone on the shop floor – it ought to have been reasonably foreseeable that leaving her on her own would be putting her at risk.

The defender admitted liability and, on receipt of medical evidence, made an offer of £5,037.95 in full and final settlement for the physical injuries to our client's head, neck, and shoulder as well as her psychological injuries. We discussed this sum with our client, and on 18 August 2017 she confirmed she wanted to accept it.

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