Accident At Work

Indicative claim case studies

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Whilst these case studies are fictional, they are based on real-life claims that our lawyers have personally dealt with. The figures are adjusted to today’s values.

Benjamin

Benjamin worked at an abattoir where his main task was to unhook carcasses and place them on a conveyor belt for removal from the main warehouse. The hook was connected to a pulley system that continuously moved around the warehouse.

There was a system intended to cut off power to the pulley system in the event of an emergency, but the policy did not have someone next to the cut-off switch at all times. On this particular day, Benjamin was unaware that the hook on this particular carcass had become broken. As the carcass came around he reached up to unhook it. When it wouldn’t release, Benjamin decided to let go and get it on the next run. Unfortunately, his hand became stuck between the carcass and the hook. Benjamin screamed out for someone to stop the pully system. The cut-off switch was on the other side of the conveyor belt, and no one was in place to press the cut-off switch immediately.

Benjamin screamed in agony, unaware at the time that his shoulder had been dislocated and the continued pulling of his arm was tearing his rotator cuff and other ligaments in his shoulder. Paramedics secured his shoulder and later used gas and air to put it back into its socket. An MRI shows the rotator cuff tear, and this would currently leave Benjamin with restricted shoulder movement until he could either have physiotherapy once the tear had healed (to rebuild shoulder strength) or arthroscopic surgery to repair the tear.

The accident meant that Benjamin was off work for five months. Whilst he was paid in full for the first month he was on statutory sick pay for the remaining months. When he returned to work he found himself unable to enter the abattoir main warehouse. He started having heart palpitations and recurring nightmares about the accident.

Benjamin sought the assistance of solicitors to file a claim against his employer. Upon receiving the claim from the solicitors, the employer sent it to their insurers. Initially, the insurers denied liability, claiming that Benjamin was responsible for the accident. However, Benjamin’s experienced solicitors noticed that the records made reference to CCTV, but no footage was provided. Once the footage was disclosed, it became apparent that not only did the footage exonerate Benjamin from any blame, but it also highlighted the negligence of the employer which led to the accident.

Benjamin’s solicitors instructed an orthopaedic surgeon and a psychologist to prepare medical reports. The orthopaedic surgeon stated that the sooner Benjamin could have arthroscopic surgery, the sooner he would recover. It was estimated that it would take 18 months post-surgery for him to be back to 100%. Luckily, Benjamin was on a waiting list and a cancellation came up, allowing him to have surgery quite soon after the orthopaedic’s report was prepared.

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Benjamin (Cont.)

After reviewing Benjamin following his surgery, the orthopaedic surgeon was satisfied with his progress. Although he would have some limitations, these could be improved with physiotherapy. If he followed through with this, he would regain full mobility by approximately 2.5 years after the accident.

He was then reviewed by a psychologist for the claim. The psychologist considered the relevant criteria and determined that Benjamin actually was suffering from PTSD. Not only was this affecting his ability to work, it was causing him to have vivid nightmares and impacted his sleep. Whilst he was able to work undertaking light duties in the office, he was unable to return to his usual job role.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) was recommended and undertaken by Benjamin, who returned to his role 9 months after the accident.

His solicitors worked out that Bejamin’s average wage was £2,200 after deductions. He received the same for the first month but then only received £440 for the subsequent four months. They were able to prove that, but for the accident, he would have been paid £7,040 for those five months post-accident.

The JC Guidelines were considered, and it was clear that Benjamin, if his case went to Court, would have been awarded at least £9,000 for his shoulder and £4,000 for his psychological symptoms.

In addition, he was able to recover £1,500 for the care and assistance that his partner had to provide during the period where Benjamin had significant restrictions.

His Solicitors were able to secure £23,040, with the cost of the CBT in addition. That was this £7,040 loss of earnings, £1500 for care and assistance and £14,500 for his physical and psychological injuries.

Aneesha

Aneesha was working late at the office when suddenly there was a massive explosion. She had no prior knowledge, but it turned out to be a gas leak in her employer’s second warehouse. The explosion occurred due to a spark igniting the leaked gas, resulting in the catastrophic incident.

Fortunately, no one was working in the warehouse or nearby when the explosion occurred. However, the blast was powerful enough to shatter the window of Aneesha’s office. She was hit by shattered glass, but luckily only suffered minor cuts and was able to escape unharmed.

The ringing in her ears continued for some time. It was a very loud bang. Paramedics advised her that the ringing would stop at some point.

Months had passed since Aneesha first experienced the ringing in her ears; although it had improved, it still persisted but at a lower intensity. Unless there were background noises, she could hear the ringing quite clearly, which was very disruptive to her daily life. It even made falling asleep very difficult for her.

Being concerned that she would have the ringing forever, she instructed solicitors. She hadn’t gone to her GP or sought other medical treatment because she simply thought it would be like that forever.

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Aneesha (Cont.)

Aneesha’s employers accepted responsibility for the incident that caused her harm. She needed to prove the extent of her losses and personal injury. To assist with this, Aneesha’s solicitors hired an expert in ear, nose, and throat (ENT) issues. The ENT expert found that Aneesha had moderate tinnitus, and recommended cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help her brain learn to ignore the ringing in her ears. Additionally, the expert suggested purchasing a sound box that would play white noise to help cancel out the ringing and improve her quality of sleep.

Aneesha underwent a computer-based test arranged by a medical agency for £2,000. She also purchased a sound box device costing £500. A year and a half later, an ENT specialist re-examined her. The tinnitus was now only very mild and was still present at night when she did not use the sound box or it was very quiet. However at this stage the ENT said the ongoing symptoms were never likely to improve anymore. The expert was also satisfied that it was unlikely tinnitus would have developed on its own.

The solicitors reviewed the guidelines and observed that the tinnitus was described as ‘slight’ and ‘mild’. Given their experience, they understood that the severity of the condition was likely to fall within the definition of ‘slight’ as per the guidelines. The guidelines stated that she would recover up to £8,560, most likely something in the region of £6,000.

The Defendant offered £1,500 for the therapy, the full £500 for the sound box but only £3,000 for the tinnitus. They said that the bracket being up to £8,560 meant that awards could be as low as £1,000 and that Aneesha failed to seek treatment.

When the parties could not agree, the matter was sent to court for a decision. Fortunately, Aneesha didn’t even have to attend Court because the admission meant that only the lawyers needed to attend Court to make arguments about the value of the claim.

The Judge heard arguments from the lawyers and made the following decision:-

  • There was no good reason for the Defendant to not offer the full £2,000 when Aneesha’s Solicitors provided the Defendant with the estimate for the CBT before the treatment began. The Defendant had the opportunity to offer treatment via its own providers at a lower rate.
  • The defendant’s offer was unrealistic according to the judge. If they questioned the ENT expert, they could argue that Aneesha failed to mitigate her injuries. However, Aneesha’s lawyer pointed out that the ENT expert stated that the timing of the ENT treatment was insignificant. The claim’s value was not based on the length of time the symptoms persisted, but rather that they were present for a significant period and were permanent. The judge granted £5,000 for the tinnitus.

Therefore, Aneesha successfully recovered £5,500 plus the cost of the CBT, which was paid to the therapist.

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