Home link worker injury while visiting college

On 19 January 2017, our client, a home link worker employed by South Ayrshire Council, sustained a personal injury while visiting a college that was undergoing construction work. As a home link worker, our client is required to carry out one-to-one sessions and home visits with pupils of all ages. On this day she was visiting Marr College in Troon.

Because of the large amount of construction work that was being carried out on building, the only way to enter and exit the college was through a temporary access tunnel. The tunnel and the two doors leading from it to the construction site are made of plywood. As she was making her way through the tunnel to exit the school, she noticed that both doors were wide open, blocking her pathway.

After letting a construction worker pass, she made her way around the first door. Before she could make her way around the second door, she noticed it began to fall towards her. The accident happened very quickly, and our client didn't have time to move out of the way. Instead, she instinctively put her right hand up to protect her head and twisted her body to the left. The door collided with her right arm and shoulder and then fell on to her back. The construction worker had to pull the door off her and help her to her feet.

The consequences

Following her accident involving a falling object in the workplace, our client's right-hand side was very sore. She was unable to continue working for the rest of the day, so, after completing an accident report with the college's deputy head teacher, returned home.

She did however return to work the next day. Her return was partly due to the pressure of work, as she didn't want to leave any unfinished work before taking her scheduled annual leave the following week, and she and several colleagues were under threat of redundancy, and she felt that taking sick leave may lead to her being let go.

She also attended her GP several times because of the accident. To confirm there were no bones broken, her GP referred her to hospital for an x-ray. She had to take medication for her sciatic pain and required physiotherapy and Bowen sessions to realign her posture.

The pain in her back, shoulder, and arm continued to trouble our client in the weeks following the accident. She required assistance with household chores as they became too tough for her to do on her own, and she had difficulty sleeping. What's more, the incident also made an emotional impact, shaking her confidence and making her reluctant to leave the house out of fear of being involved in a similar accident.

Because she has annual leave scheduled anyway, she did not have to take off any days because of her injury. Needless to say, the plans that she made for her week's annual leave (visiting her son in Inverness) were ruined. She also incurred out-of-pocket expenses from travelling to and from medical appointments, and the jacket she was wearing at the time of the accident was also damaged.

The Settlement

A claim was intimated against Keir Construction, the company carrying out construction work at Marr College, with the assistance of our client's union, UNISON. Because their work had made the premises unsafe for visitors, we alleged that they were in breach of the Occupier’s Liability (Scotland) Act 1960.

The insurance company acting on behalf of Keir Construction admitted liability. On receipt of medical evidence detailing our client's injuries, they made an initial offer of £4726.90. We discussed this with our client, advising her that we felt the offer was too low, and she confirmed she was not willing to accept it. The insurers then made an increased offer of £5,000. We again discussed this with our client on 7 August 2017, and this time she confirmed she wanted to accept it.

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