Scottish Water Shoulder Injury Claim Case Study

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Our client, a 56-year-old employee of Scottish Water contacted us in October 2018 after experiencing significant and debilitating shoulder pain that he attributed to conditions in his workplace.

The background

Initially, our client, who had worked for Scottish Water (previously known as Lothian Regional Council Water Board) for five years, developed problems with his left elbow and in 1994 he underwent surgery to try to correct this. One possible factor in the development of this injury was the man's occupational use of vibrating tools, including jackhammers.

In 1997 our client began to develop pain in his right shoulder and was moved to a new role – as an HGV driver – as it was felt lighter duties would be better for his health. However, in 2014 he was replaced by a contractor and was told that unless he accepted a new position as an HGV driver and labourer he would lose his job. The new role involved heavy lifting between 10 and 15 times a day – sometimes of sandbags that weighed around 25kg – and led to a recurrence of his shoulder pain; this was despite the employer being aware of his previous injuries.

Our client also told Thompsons' solicitors that he believed the vehicle he used for deliveries, a Vauxhall Movano, was unsuitable for the purposes of unloading equipment and that his employer failed to carry out any form of risk assessment.

The settlement

Thompsons' industrial injury solicitors considered that there were reasonable prospects of establishing negligence on the part of the employers and, as such, once instructed by the client, we proceeded to recover his full medical records. These supported the diagnosis of a manual handling work-related injury. Thompsons subsequently sought an expert medical report from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, which supported this position.

The defenders denied liability for our client's work-related injury and refused to put forward settlement proposals. However, we believed that there were reasonable prospects of recovering industrial injury compensation so raised court proceedings in the All Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court.

We also secured an expert report from the Technical Director at Hu-Tech Ergonomic Factors; this supported our belief that the defenders had been in breach of their duties towards our client, in particular those laid out under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations.

The defenders made an initial offer of £15,000 as full and final settlement, but we advised our client to reject this. The case proceeded to a pre-trial meeting and at this point, the defender made a further offer of £25,000. This was also refused.

The defenders subsequently made a third offer, this time of £30,000; we advised our client to accept and on 7th June 2019 he confirmed that he was happy to do so.

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