Worker's slip in warehouse

Our client in this case, Mr John Colquhoun, was employed as a warehouse operative for the Co-op. On the 15 July 2016, he was involved in a workplace accident that led him to seek compensation for his injuries.

On a daily basis, our client carried out 'health check' reports, which involved removing products put in the wrong location. This means he walks throughout the warehouse checking various cages. Also operating in this area are 'pickers', whose job it is to pick items from pallets and move them onto a cage (which would then be taken to a store).

These pallets come in 'banding', which is like cling film. On the day of the accident, Mr Colquhoun had to navigate his way around several pallets, one of which was being moved by a picker. This pallet still had its banding trailing behind it, which our client did not see. As he passed by, his foot got caught in the banding and he fell onto the concrete floor, hitting his face and injuring his left hip and thigh.

The Consequences

Our client received first aid at the warehouse, which involved him taking pain relief medication and having a heat pad applied to his hip.

He didn't go to hospital at this time. Instead, as it was a Friday, he returned home to rest over the weekend. However, when he returned to work the following week, he wasn't able to get very far into his shift. The pain in his hip meant he couldn't continue. He left work and went to hospital, worried that the latest accident had caused further damage to his hip and thigh as he had previously suffered an injury to the area from his right hip to his knee which required him to have screws and a metal plate inserted. At the hospital, our client was given an x-ray that showed no serious change from an x-ray taken the year before. He was referred back to the surgeon who carried out his original operation.

During this time, Mr Colquhoun was in constant pain, far worse than the pain he was used to after his first accident. He attended his GP for pain relief and also went to physiotherapy, but his physiotherapist had to cancel his sessions because there was a discrepancy with one of the screws in his thigh.

In the two weeks following the accident that he was absent from work, Mr Colquhoun struggled around the house. Everyday tasks were difficult, and he required assistance from his wife with preparing meals, shopping, and cleaning. As he was unable to bend over, resting was also very hard for him. He planned to start training on his exercise bike to build up his leg strength, but he was forced to push this back.

The Settlement

Our client made a claim through his union, Usdaw, for his work accident injury sustained in a warehouse.

For his accident, Mr Colquhourn blamed the picker who did not ensure the floor was clear of the pallet banding. His employer, the Co-operative, also should have made sure there were more measures in place to ensure the floor remained clear. We therefore determined that there was a good case for vicarious liability.

However, when Thompsons' solicitors intimated the claim to his employer, their insurer initially denied liability. We advised them that we would raise court proceedings, and shortly thereafter the company confirmed they were willing to discuss settlement.

We arranged for our client to be examined by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, who confirmed that the fall had aggravated the metal plate already in his left thigh. The report allowed for a five month period of recovery. We sent this report to the insurers, and they put forward an offer of £5,000, in full and final settlement. Given the available medical evidence, we advised our client that this was an excellent offer, and Mr Colquhoun agreed to accept it. We reached a settlement on 12 October 2017.

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