Our client was a HGV driver who was at his employer’s premises in the wash down area, using a jet wash to clean his lorry. As he was doing so, he tripped over some metalwork which had been stored there. It was dark and the area was poorly lit, so our client did not see the metalwork until he tripped over it. He sustained a rupture to the muscle in his right thigh, pain followed by stiffness in his right knee and shoulder and bruising to his bottom, leaving him unable to work for six months and requiring extensive rehabilitation therapy to aid his recovery. We were able to recover personal injury compensation for him of £33,700.
A brief summary of events is set out below.
Date of Accident: January 2015
Time between formal instruction and successful conclusion: We took on the case in January 2015 and settled it just 12 months later.
How the claim proceeded: Having initially taken our clients instructions, we sent a formal letter to his employers detailing his claim. Whilst waiting for them to respond, we took details of our client’s current financial losses. As his leg had been placed in plaster and he would need a knee brace following its removal, he had been advised by his NHS consultant that it was unlikely he would be able to return to work for six months following the accident. His employer would not pay him anything more than Statutory Sick Pay, so our client was experiencing serious financial difficulties. Having been contacted by the employer’s insurers, we asked them to provide an interim payment for our client, to assist him financially, but they refused. However, they were willing to cover the cost of additional rehabilitation treatment to assist his recovery.
In March 2015 we were contacted by the insurers again with a partial acceptance of responsibility for the accident, claiming our client was also at fault as he knew that metalwork was stored in the wash down area. Our client had advised us that the metalwork had been stored in the area for some 3-4 weeks prior to his accident, but the area was so poorly lit it was difficult to see it in the dark. We therefore challenged the insurers on their claim that our client was at fault.
By April 2015 our client had been to see his NHS consultant who finally discharged him, advising he could go back to work when ready. However, it was not until the end of that month that he was finally discharged from his physiotherapy treatment provider. At this time, we were able to apply for copies of his GP and hospital records and arrange an appointment for him to see a medical expert.
In July 2015 we received a report from the medical expert, detailing our client’s injuries, prognosis for a full recovery and the fact that he had been left with a 15% disability, as a result of his thigh and knee injury. This would ultimately leave him at a disadvantage on the open labour market in the future, due to his restrictive movement. Following receipt of the report, we were then able to fully value our client’s claim, and along with a schedule of his current and projected future financial losses, put forward a settlement proposal to the insurers. However, the insurers failed to respond to us within the specified timeframe, repeatedly ignoring our attempts to contact them, so we had no option but to begin preparations to issue court proceedings against the employer.
Were Court proceedings necessary?: Yes. We issued court proceedings against the employer in October 2015, as their insurers were unwilling to participate in any settlement negotiations.
Was a trial necessary?: No. In December 2015, we had reached a point in the court proceedings where it was necessary for the employer to provide the court with their defence relating to the accident. We were then contacted by solicitors who had been appointed by the insurers offering a compensation settlement. Following brief negotiations we were able to agree a sum our client was happy to accept.
Outcome: The client secured £14,000 for his injuries and £19,700 for his financial losses, including his loss of earnings and care expenses following the accident when he was unable to work and his wife had to provide full time care for him.
Comment: The employer clearly failed in their responsibility to ensure that the wash down area where our client was working, was being used for the purpose it was intended. It had been storing metalwork inappropriately for some weeks prior to the accident and had also failed to provide suitable, sufficient lighting to the area. If they had followed better health and safety practices and undertaken a robust system of risk assessments to identify any dangers to employees in the area, this accident could well have been avoided.
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