Accident at work news

 

The importance of pursuing a personal injury claim

Personal injury victims often ask whether it is worthwhile for them to pursue a legal claim following an accident. Personal injury victims can be cautious about claiming for various reasons, such as:

  • They are scared they may lose their job because their accident occurred in the workplace
  • They are unsure of whether they were owed a legal duty of care
  • They do not think they will be able to prove who was at fault
  • They do not believe they will gain much from pursuing a claim
  • They believe the claims process is difficult, timely and expensive.

In this article the reasons for and benefits of pursuing a claim for personal injuries are explained.

Responsibility

There are various circumstances in which personal injuries are suffered as a result of the negligence of another person or entity. As personal injury solicitors, we tend to see cases that arise from:

  • Ignorance of the law
  • Failing to keep abreast with health and safety requirements
  • Failing to provide personal protective equipment to employees such as gloves or safety boots simply to save money
  • Failing to educate and train employees on safe working practices
  • Failing to implement safe working practices within the work force
  • Failing to maintain premises in a good state of repair for the benefit of employees or visitors to the workplace
  • Poor maintenance of public highways
  • Poor maintenance of equipment or machinery.

In these cases the negligent party has either ignored the law or acted in a negligent manner, usually in an attempt to save time and money at the cost of the injured person’s health.

The law places a responsibility on:

  • Employers to protect employees in the workplace
  • The owners and operators of public places, such as supermarkets, to ensure visitors are safe when visiting the premises
  • Local authorities to ensure highways and public places are well maintained and are safe to use
  • Medical experts and medical treatment providers to ensure that people are treated according to reasonable standards
  • Main contractors to protect sub-contracted employees.

If these responsibilities are breached then the person or entity has broken the law and should be held to account for their wrong-doings.

Why is it so important to pursue a claim? 

Justice

Morally, the most important reason for pursuing a legal claim is to achieve justice. If you have been injured through no fault of your own you have a right to ensure that the person or entity that caused the injuries is held accountable for their actions.

Proving negligence can be an extremely lengthy and complex task. The personal injury team at Boyes Turner has been operating for over 30 years and collectively has over 58 years of experience in dealing with all personal injury claims ranging from minor whiplash injuries to life-changing brain and spinal injury. Our extensive experience means you can rest assured that we have the skills and expertise to handle your claim and achieve the best possible outcome.

Treatments, medication and aids

Following an injury you may require treatment, medication and aids.

The type and level of injury suffered will determine exactly what your treatment requirements will be. Typical treatments, medications and aids that personal injury victims may require include:

  • Prosthetics after amputation
  • Walking aids such as a stick, a wheel chair or a motorised scooter
  • Stair lifts
  • NHS prescriptions
  • Over the counter medications
  • Non-NHS provided medical treatments and equipment
  • Physiotherapy and hydrotherapy
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy
  • Holistic treatments.

The costs of these items can quickly add up and should not be paid for by a personal injury victim and should be recovered in a successful legal claim.

Loss of income

Many personal injury victims find themselves having to reduce their working hours, either temporarily during their recovery period, or permanently, in part or in full, owing to their ongoing disability.

In cases of fatal injury, the bereaved family may suffer extreme hardship from the loss of their former loved one’s income. Where the death of the family member was caused by someone else’s negligence and the financial loss to the dependant family can be proven, these losses can be recovered in a successful personal injury claim.

Care and assistance

Personal injury victims may require care and assistance with their day to day living following the accident. In cases of serious, life-changing injuries, the need for care and assistance can be life-long and constant.

Care needs may include:

  • Assistance with dressing
  • Assistance with bathing and toileting
  • Running errands and fetching items
  • Assistance going up and down stairs
  • Assistance with daily chores
  • Physical support
  • Assistance in getting to and from medical appointments
  • Psychological support
  • After care following surgery
  • Assistance with medication.

All of these types of care go over and above the usual care and assistance provided by a spouse or family member and can be very draining on the carer. The provision of this care sometimes also prevents the carer from going to work resulting in a further financial loss.

A successful legal claim would include a sum of money to compensate the carer for the care and assistance they have provided or in cases of severe injury, financial provision would be made for the employment of professional carers.

Out of pocket expenses

All personal injury victims will incur out of pocket expenses due to their accident, such as the  treatments, medications, aids and loss of earnings discussed above.  Further out of pocket expenses could also include:

  • Travel expenses in attending medical appointments
  • Parking expenses in attending medical appointments
  • Paying for professional assistance with household activities, such as gardening, window cleaning, decorating and general DIY that the injured person can no longer manage owing to their injury
  • Replacement clothing costs.

A successful legal claim would cater for these costs to be repaid to you.

Funeral expenses

Where the negligence has led to the victim’s death, reasonable funeral expenses will also be included in the claim.

If you or someone you know would like to discuss the possibility of pursuing a legal claim please call us on 0118 952 7137 for a free confidential discussion.

Worker loses foot after severe leg injuries

Luke Simpson, 24, was an agency worker for Smiths Metal Centres Limited when he was involved in a tragic incident which left him with a prosthetic foot.

The company, Smiths Metal Centres Limited (Smiths)  based in Bedfordshire has been fined for safety breaches after a worker suffered severe leg injuries and lost most of his foot.

The court heard how Mr Simpson was injured when a trolley carrying a bundle of 18 stainless steel bars weighing 900kg tipped over as he was moving it with another colleague. As the trolley tipped, the bundle of bars fell off the top of the trolley trapping Mr Simpson’s foot.  His right leg was broken and his right foot was badly crushed. Despite a number of operations to save his foot, most of it was amputated and he now has a prosthetic foot.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the metal trolleys have been used on site for some 20 years without incident. Smiths purchased the trolleys to be used as workstations, but employees also use them to move metal stock around the site. There was no risk assessment or written system of work for these trolleys at the time of the accident. The trolley also had faulty wheels and there was no record of any maintenance. After the accident, the trolley was given a safe working load of 500kg; half the weight placed on the trolley at the time of the accident.

Smiths pleaded guilty to Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £130,000.00. Following the hearing, Emma Page HSE Inspector said “Luke’s life has been drastically altered by what happened and this incident could have been very easily avoided with some simple measures. The right equipment and a correct maintenance system would have prevented this from happening”

How we can help?

Boyes Turner’s personal injury team deals with such accident at work claims. Our expert lawyers aim to improve the quality of life of our clients by focusing on early rehabilitation and training. We have access to case managers to ensure that practical assistance is given as soon as possible and we can arrange for interim payments to be made to deal with any pressing financial needs or purchase any equipment or care that is necessary.

A man left almost completely blind after a workplace accident

Duane Scholes, 29, was a trainee engineer at Chatburn-based hydraulic equipment manufacturers Lodematic Components Ltd. He was hit in the face by a pressurised hose during a test when a connector catastrophically failed.

Duane was knocked unconscious for about 20 minutes and suffered a number of facial injuries which required reconstruction surgery. He was airlifted to Royal Preston Hospital where he remained for eight days. It subsequently became apparent that he lost 95 per cent vision in his right eye.

He found it difficult to deal with the changes in his appearance and developed depression. He was sent to see a therapist and thanks to support of his family and friends things started to get better.

Workplace accident claim

Duane received damages of more than £100,000.

In the aftermath of the accident Lodematic Components was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs, after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive revealed that the test zone was not segregated or safeguarded and the company had not carried out a risk assessment.

The investigation also highlighted that the test equipment had not been maintained and was not suitable for the task.

Adrianna Rajwa, an expert workplace accident claims solicitor at Boyes Turner, comments:

“It is fantastic news that that Lodematic have admitted their mistakes and Mr Scholes received a compensation payout allowing him to move on with his life and finally put this ordeal behind him. The accident impacted on many aspects of his life and the compensation payment should ensure that his able to get on with his life going forward.  It also shows how important is early rehabilitation and support of family and friends in difficult times.  We know that life with serious injuries can be very different, but it can be just as fulfilling with the right support and understanding”.

Boyes Turner personal injury team deals with many accident at work claims. Our expert lawyers aim to improve the quality of life of our clients by focusing on early rehabilitation and training. We have access to case managers to ensure that practical assistance is given as soon as possible and we can arrange for interim payments to be made to deal with any pressing financial needs or purchase any equipment or care that is necessary.

Iceland worker making accident at work claim after breaking her back at work

Geraldine Emery, a Supervisor at the Iceland Supermarket, is bringing an accident at work claim for £200,000 against her employers – she says she broke her back trying to move a metal cage full with groceries which fell onto her.

Mrs Emery says that the cage was too heavy for her to move safely and that she suffered catastrophic injuries when the cage toppled onto her causing a compression fracture to two of her vertebrae together with internal injuries. Mrs Emery was attempting to move a total of 6 cages and it was the third one that fell on to her pinning her to the ground.

Mrs Emery claims that Iceland failed to give her appropriate manual handling training and exposed her to an unnecessary risk of injury because she was simply not strong enough to carry out the task.

Mrs Emery has been unable to work since the accident and claims damages in excess of £200,000. Details of Iceland’s defence are as yet unknown and the case will come before a Judge in due course.

Kim Smerdon, an accident at work claims lawyer, says:

“Employers must provide a safe place and safe system of work for their employees and in this case it seems that they did not do so. Manual handling should be avoided if at all possible but, if it cannot be avoided, employees must receive adequate training to ensure that they can move things safely. It seems that if the cages had not been so fully loaded and indeed if Mrs Emery had a work colleague to assist her then the accident could have been avoided”.

£900k compensation for injuries sustained in an accident at work

A 44 year old man has received just over £900,000 for injuries sustained in an accident at work in July 2010. 

C was an HGV driver for the defendants civil engineering company (D). D’s company manager, gave C the keys to a JCB so that C could move it to bring his HGV into the yard. The JCB had been vandalised and the window smashed. C climbed into the drivers side of the cab but was unable to unlock the damaged door. He attempted to reach inside through the broken window to do so but slipped and cut his left arm on pieces of broken glass.

C suffered from damage to the radial artery, median nerve and flexor tendons and developed type 2 complex regional pain syndrome and will suffer permanent symptoms as a result.

The regional pain syndrome caused symptoms such as intense burning pain, skin sensitivity, sweating, swelling, muscle atrophy, muscle wasting and tightening of the skin. He underwent extensive surgery including a sympathectomy and a nerve graft and median nerve blocks, physiotherapy, pain management and guanethidine blocks. The sympathectomy itself caused neuropathic pain in the left shoulder, left arm, left anterior chest and axila, horners syndrome and a drooping eyelid affecting his vision, although he did undergo a successful operation to remedy that condition.

Sadly C was left with a virtually useless left arm and hand, was substantially dependent on others and developed severe depression as a result. He requires significant carer support provided by his wife and a support worker. It is unlikely that C would work again.

C alleged that D was negligent in using a vandalised JCB to block the yard entrance and exposing him to a foreseeable risk of injury by asking him to move the vandalised JCB. D admitted 85% liability and C conceded 15% liability.

C received £905,316 in an out of court settlement broken down roughly as follows:

General damages for pain suffering and loss of amenity – £100,000
Ongoing treatment – £ 25,000
Future loss of earnings – 400,000
Pension – £ 25,000

Increased fines for health and safety breaches

Draft guidelines, have been published by the Sentencing Council and now subject to public consultation regarding sentencing of health and safety breaches including corporate manslaughter food safety and hygiene offences.

The guidelines suggest that companies could pay as much as 15 times more than the current fines which are imposed.

Bigger organisations who are found to be in breach could face penalties of up to £20m. The public should be urged to respond as it appears that these proposals may become effective before the end of the year. The council has said that there is a lack of sentencing guidance for these offences, bar a few exceptions, and that existing guidance covered organisations not individuals. Rat infestations, supermarket’s failure to recall faulty food products are all subject to be dealt with. The consultation is due to close on 18 February 2015.

Four injured and one fatality in explosion at work

A horticultural company has recently been fined after one worker died and three others were seriously injured following an explosion at work. 

The victim PJ, along with two of his workmates, had been asked to open a pressurised tank in preparation for upgrading work at a nursery. Two of the workers were asked to unbolt a hatch cover from the pressure vessel while there was still pressure in the system. This caused a release of pressure that sent the hatch cover flying across the room followed by a large amount of water that swept everyone off of their feet.

PJ died of head injuries six days after the incident and the other three men standing nearby suffered head injuries, broken jaw, bruising and lacerations.

Following investigation by the Health & Safety Executive it was found that the work had not been properly planned, the workers had not been properly trained or supervised and that at least one of them spoke very little English which made it difficult for him to understand the instructions given.  The investigation found that the hatch should not have been removed until all the pressure had been totally released from the system thereby preventing the accident.

Kim Smerdon, Specialist Accident at Work Solicitor, comments:

“This tragic incident could so easily have been avoided if some simple logical steps had been taken prior to the work being carried out and had the employer properly planned and supervised the operation the tragedy would have been avoided.  Employers owe a duty of care to their workers and had this been exercised in this case, PJ’s death would have been prevented”.

Local company prosecuted and fined over death of worker

The worker suffered catastrophic injuries, from which he later died, at his workplace when he was using cutting equipment to separate the split rim wheel from a tyre whilst still inflated.

As the company had fallen very far short of the standard required of them the Judge found that the company had been convicted on quite compelling evidence.

The Judge said that this had been an accident waiting to happen because the defendant company was totally ignorant when it came to health and safety procedures including the whole culture of risk assessment.

Kim Smerdon, head of Boyes Turner’s personal Injury team, comments:

“I am currently acting for someone who was injured in a similar situation, though thankfully his injuries have not been fatal. However he sustained very serious fractures to his right hand resulting in fusion surgery and it is likely that he will have to have at least one finger amputated in the future. These sorts of accidents can be quite easily avoided if a safe system of work is put in place”.

Worker suffers life threatening injuries at a Basingstoke firm

The 42 year old man suffered life threatening injuries when he was trapped between a Telehandler and a steel post as he acted as a look out for a vehicle in a workshop in West Drayton. 

The man from Berkshire was crushed and had to have his spleen and most of his pancreas removed.  He was in hospital for 4 months following the accident and has been unable to return to work.

The Basingstoke Engineering firm was fined at Westminster Magistrates Court last week when the Court was told that an impromptu operation had been taking place to enable workers to shunt a broken down Telehandler into the workshop. It was agreed that an HGV would be reversed up to the vehicle to push it the few feet to the workshop. The Berkshire man suffered severe crush injuries as a result of this attempt.

Kim Smerdon, specialist accident at work solicitor, comments:

“This local man suffered very serious injuries that were entirely preventable as there was no need for him to be involved in an operation such as this.  The Engineering firm should have planned the operation carefully, recognised the risks – crush injuries are common from reversing vehicles – and then properly supervised the same.  Had they done so these very serious injuries could have been avoided”.

Costain receives substantial fine for Newbury Parkway death

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported on 23 July 2014 that global engineering specialist Costain Limited has been ordered to pay more than £615,000 in fines and costs after a worker was killed during the construction of the Parkway shopping development in Newbury in July 2011.

The 41 year old father of two was using a telehandler to lift a pallet of tiles to a fourth story roof when it began to topple. He attempted to jump clear of the cab but it landed on top of him, causing fatal crush injuries.

The HSE found that the safety of the vehicle had been compromised by limited space and other obstructions in the area where he was required to work and Costain Limited, the principal contractor for the Parkway development, was prosecuted for failing to provide a safer system of work.

Reading Court heard during a five week trial in March this year that the deceased had been manoeuvring the telehandler with the boom fully raised. This was because the space in which he had to operate did not allow for an adequate turning circle. HSE inspectors established that he had no option but to operate the vehicle in this way and the court was told the vehicle was not suited for use in this area, and that had the space constraints been properly assessed and a better system of work put in place then the death could have been avoided.

After sentencing HSE principal inspector Steve Hull commented:

“This was a tragic and entirely preventable death. (The Deceased) was required to use a telehandler that was wholly unsuited to the confined area he worked in.

He had no option but to raise the boom so he could turn the vehicle, and in doing so he critically undermined the stability, resulting in the inevitable overturn.

“He should have been provided with alternative, more appropriate equipment and a better system of work. Costain had clear responsibilities to ensure that happened, but they failed to properly assess the risks and ultimately failed (him).”

Julie Carlisle, solicitor at Boyes Turner, comments:

“The Newbury Parkway development was a major project in the centre of a busy market town, and in their desire to complete the works within deadline Costains failed to properly co-ordinate their sub contractors and to assess the work being carried out by each and how it impacted upon or restricted the work of others. Evidence was given that despite the creation of a Health and Safety Committee concerns raised by the various workmen on site about the cramped conditions  and time pressures placed upon them were not properly investigated. When large numbers of contractors are engaged to work upon the same building project at once then co-ordination of those overlapping tasks becomes a priority. The focus in this case appears sadly to have been on timescales rather than safety”. 

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