Head Injury Compensation Claim for NHS Worker

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This case study relates to the compensation claim of an NHS worker who was injured during the course of her employment on 15 October 2019. She sustained a head injury due to a workplace accident involving a falling object. After the accident, her union, Unite, referred her to Thompsons Solicitors in Scotland so we could make a claim on her behalf.

The background

At the time of her workplace injury, our client worked for NHS Lanarkshire as a clinical associate psychologist at the Buchanan Centre in Coatbridge. Her job required her to provide therapy to NHS patients. The accident happened in her consulting room as she was completing paperwork relating to one of her patients.

She had arrived for work at 7:40am and went to sit at her desk in her consulting room. Suddenly, a heavy object struck her head and she heard a loud crash behind her. Our client felt immediate pain at the top and back of her head.

As she looked around her office, she realised what had happened: a circular metal panel, which was there to give workers access to the pipework above the suspended ceiling, had fallen from the ceiling and landed on her head. This circular access lid had been installed roughly three years prior to the accident following a control book audit carried out by NHS Lanarkshire.

The consequences

Our client felt very ill immediately after the accident. However, as she had her first patient of the day already waiting for her, she decided to try to continue with her work, but she experienced a loss of concentration and ringing in her ears. Her manager advised her to go to the A&E department at Monklands University Hospital, where the staff provided her with concussion advice.

Over the following days, her symptoms worsened. She had pain in her head, neck, right ear, and right jaw. She suffered from nausea and fatigue, her sleep was disturbed, and she found that she was forgetful and not able to focus. She also experienced visual disturbances, seeing coloured shapes in the peripheral vision of her left eye.

Our client’s GP initially signed her off work for three weeks, but her pain, fatigue, and concentration issues persisted after this period, so she was put on occupational health review and signed off work in November 2019. She was prescribed amitriptyline to help with her constant headaches.

Because she was off work, our client lost out on earnings from her overtime clinic (approximately £90 a week). Her ongoing symptoms caused her to struggle with household chores and she couldn’t exercise or enjoy her hobbies.

The settlement

Thompsons’ personal injury solicitors intimated a head injury compensation claim to NHS Lanarkshire, our client’s employer, and to North Lanarkshire Council. Initially, both defenders denied liability, with each believing the other was at fault. NHS Lanarkshire stated that the Council was responsible for the maintenance of the building and was therefore liable. The Council argued that as this was a workplace accident, our client should claim against her employer.

We raised a court action in the All-Scotland Personal Injury Court, and a provisional proof date was set. To ascertain the extent of her injuries, we instructed a Consultant in Emergency Medicine, a Consultant Psychiatrist, and a Consultant Neurologist to examine our client. As a result of these consultations, our client was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome with ongoing symptoms.

Our client eventually returned to work but could not work any overtime. As one of our consultants informed us that our client’s symptoms would not resolve until five years after the accident, we made a loss of earnings claim in respect of the overtime she would miss over five years.

The case proceeded to a pre-trial meeting, but we could not reach a settlement at that stage.

Shortly after the pre-trial meeting, the defenders made a formal offer of £27,000 to our client. The offer included the £2,600 that was to be paid back to the NHS as a recoverable benefit. We advised our client that this was a reasonable offer and we were unlikely to get a higher sum in court. Our client was happy with the compensation amount and instructed us to accept it.

The case was settled on 5 August 2022.

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