Night Shift Worker's Back Injury Compensation Claim - Case Study

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Our client, Mr Thomas McBride, was employed by Abellio Scotrail, working at Corkerhill Train depot as, a member of the vehicle presentation team. His main duties involved cleaning train carriages when they were off service. On 2 February 2017 he was involved in an accident at work during a night shift.

Mr McBride was introduced to Thompsons Solicitors in Scotland by his union, Unite.

The background

On the day of the accident, our client had just started his shift. He had to collect cleaning products from a shipping container used for storage. Typically the door to the storage facility was opened and secured by the team leader, but as our client entered the container the door was blown shut on him by a gust of wind.

The consequences

Our client had suffered a previous back injury around ten years earlier and knew instantly that he had suffered a further injury. Following the incident our client felt unable to continue working and was sent home.

Mr McBride was in significant pain but was unable to make his own way to hospital or seek help until later that day when his wife drove him to see his GP. He was referred to Ayrshire Central Hospital and had to wait a few days for an appointment.

Following an X-ray our client was diagnosed with a soft tissue injury to his back.

The settlement

Although Mr McBride's employer confirmed that the hook and chain had not been in use to secure the door at the time of the incident, they denied liability on the basis that the fastening system for the door was in full working order on the date of the accident and that it was not possible to be present at all times to ensure that staff were carrying out their responsibilities correctly.

Thompsons personal injury solicitors raised the case in the All Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court.

The defender continued to deny liability. However, our position was that the employer was vicariously liable for negligence on behalf of employees, specifically, the team leader's failure to secure the door open with the hook and chain, and as such owed our client a duty of care.

An initial settlement offer of £7,500 tendered by the defender was considered to be at the lower end of the scale that our client might have been awarded by the court, so was rejected.

Thompsons tendered a compensation amount of £9,500. The defender then offered £8,500 and this was accepted by Mr McBride on our recommendation. The work accident back injury claim was settled on the 24 July 2020.

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