Pavement fall compensation claim

Pavement fall compensation claim against West Northamptonshire Council

I previously handled a pavement fall compensation claim on behalf of a client in Northampton.

My client in this case was a housewife, from Eastern Europe. She was married, with 3 children.

The accident took place on a dark winter’s evening.  My client’s husband had returned home from work, and he started looking after the children.

My client then left the house to walk to a local convenience store, to buy some extra snacks for the evening.

As can be seen from the attached photographs, the pathway ran behind the backs of houses. There was no street lighting.  The only illumination came from the houses nearby.

Accident description

While my client was walking along the path, her right foot went into a depression. This made her fall to the ground.

My client was in extreme pain, and she was unable to stand up. She sat on the ground and called her husband on her mobile.  He quickly fetched his car.

At the hospital, x-rays were taken.  These confirmed that the right ankle was broken in 3 places.  Her right foot was placed in a plaster cast.

On her second visit to the hospital after that, the doctors decided advised that there would be no operation. The plaster cast was removed, and she was given a plastic cast instead.

As a result of the ankle injury, my client also developed pain in her hip and lower back. She believed this was because she was limping and walking awkwardly.

The pain in the right ankle was particularly bad in cold, damp weather.

Obtaining the evidence

Sometimes in this type of claim, the local authority will act swiftly to repair the damage.  In consequence, the evidence of the defect disappears.

For this reason, before sending a letter of claim to the local authority, I encouraged the client and her husband to go back to the scene, and take some photographs.

As you can see from the photographs, the height of the tripping point is clearly seen.

The photographs also very helpfully show some identifiable landmarks in the background.

About the compensation claim

To begin with, the local authority did not respond to the letter of claim.  I believe this was because Northamptonshire County Council was going through some administrative changes.

Eventually the local authority instructed solicitors to defend the claim.

The opposing solicitors admitted most of the blame. But at the same time, they alleged that my client had contributed to the accident, for failing to look where she was going.

These objections were ridiculous. The photographs of the footpath tell their own story, and coupled with a lack of lighting, this was clearly a hazardous state of affairs.

 

Court proceedings were issued.  We pursued the claim on a 100% basis, without any concessions being made for contributory negligence.

Questionable orthopaedic report

Once my client’s medical treatment had run its course, I arranged an independent medical examination, with an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in ankle injuries.

He diagnosed that my client had suffered a trimalleolar fracture.  He also advised that my client faced the risk of future osteoarthritis, and the possible need for an ankle fusion operation.

In response, the opposing solicitors arranged their own separate medical examination, with an orthopaedic surgeon of their own.

The opposing orthopaedic surgeon wrote a hostile report, basically saying that my client was exaggerating her symptoms and her injury was relatively minor.

Surprisingly, the opposing medical expert stated in his report that my client was unable to walk around the supermarket.  My client had told him no such thing.  Several other basic facts were wrong as well, apparently designed to portray my client in a bad light.

Overall it appeared that the opposing orthopaedic surgeon was twisting the facts to suit his predetermined conclusion.

Faced with this highly questionable medical report, I served a series of questions on the opposing medical expert, under Part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules, basically challenging the opposing orthopaedic surgeon as his credibility. This met with a predictably heated response.

The trial date approached.  To her great credit, my client was fearless and determined to demonstrate to the judge that she was not lying about her injury. I arranged an interpreter for the trial.

About a week before the trial, the opposing solicitors suddenly backed down and agreed to pay appropriate compensation.

Concluding thoughts

For me, this case illustrates the lengths to which a local authority will go, to avoid paying compensation after a perfectly legitimate pavement fall accident.

First of all, the allegations of contributory negligence were without any foundation. In making baseless allegations of that type, the opposing solicitors merely delayed the settlement and caused the costs to escalate.

Secondly, it was disappointing that the opposing orthopaedic surgeon was prepared to “twist the facts” to try to achieve the conclusion he wanted. Admittedly orthopaedic surgeons often have different opinions.  However surely factual truthfulness is not too much to ask.

The legal costs in this case were significant.  If only the local authority and their solicitors had engaged sensibly with the compensation claim from the beginning, a settlement could have been achieved in least a couple of years earlier, and significant expense could have been saved.

If you would like an initial free assessment of your potential pavement fall injury compensation claim, please:

  • Send me some photos of the bad or defective pavement.  Please use the email address bhmk108 AT gmail.com. (Please insert the @ manually. I have excluded it here as a simple anti-spam measure) and
  • Telephone me on 0845 021 2222.  If you prefer, I can easily call you back.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for visiting.

Back injury claim

Please click the images to expand them…

One of my cases involved a Lithuanian client, who suffered a back injury.

His job involved installing security shutters at a housing estate in Middlesbrough.

The housing estate was a crime hotspot.

Gangs of youths would roam the estate, committing acts of vandalism.

Many of the houses on the estate had been badly damaged, and were abandoned.

To try to prevent matters getting worse, the local council had instructed a specialist security firm.

That firm was instructed to install metal security shutters, to prevent unauthorised people from entering the abandoned houses.

The security shutters were designed to cover the doors and windows.

Due to the weight, lifting and installing the security shutters was a 2-man job.

My client and his colleague, both Lithuanians, were given the task to fit these shutters.

The men were given targets. Each day, a certain number of these security shutters had to be installed.

As an added difficulty, many of the houses on the estate was surrounded by slippery rubbish.

One of the houses had been used as a drugs den. The accompanying photographs, taken by my client, show the indescribably filthy conditions inside.

To make matters even worse, the local youths on the estate would often harass my client and his colleague, while they were trying to do their job.

Ideally, my client and his colleague should have been able to park their van near each house. However in reality this was not always possible.

Furthermore the company failed to provide the men with a trolley, for transporting the security shutters on site.

As a result my client and his colleague had to carry the security shutters manually.

My client became injured while he and his colleague were carrying one of the very heavy metal doors from their van to one of the vandalised houses.

He felt a sharp pain in his back, but he tried to continue working, hoping that the pain would improve.

But a couple of hours later, while sitting in the van on the way home, the pain in his back became far worse.

I made a back injury claim against the employer, and they denied responsibility.

They alleged that they had done a proper risk assessment for this task.

Therefore they said they had no intention of paying compensation.

However on closer examination, the risk assessment was inadequate, as it did not take into account the dangerous and anti-social conditions in which my client was working.

Faced with the denial of liability, we began court proceedings.

The company’s insurers agreed to pay compensation as soon afterwards.

I felt sorry for this client.

He came to the UK to start a new life.

But he returned to Lithuania injured, disillusioned, and with a very unsavoury view of the UK.

His photographs are an eloquent testimony to the depravity of some people.

Back injury claim
To discuss your possible claim, please call me today, on 0845 021 2222
Thanks for visiting, Boris Kremer

Farm accident compensation

Farm accident compensation – Please click the images to expand them…

One of my cases involved a Polish farm worker.

The farm where he worked was attached to an agricultural college, near Gloucester.

At the farm were roughly 400 diary cows.

Each morning, the cows would need to be fed.

They would eat “silage”, which is compressed grass.

Using a JCB mechanical excavator, my client would fetch an appropriate quantity of silage.

He would then place the silage into the automatic feeder in the cow shed.

The silage was located in roughly half a dozen very large open-air bays, with concrete walls.

To keep out the rain, the silage lay underneath a protective covering

To the keep the protective covering in place, my client was required to place old motor tyres over the top.

The difficulty was, many of these motor tyres were from lorries and tractors.

Such tyres were extremely heavy.

While moving these motor tyres around, my client suffered a back injury.

I have previously dealt with several compensation claims involving farm workers.

I have always found that the other side contest such claims vigorously.

So to strengthen the claim, we decided to get supporting photographic evidence.

Normally it is necessary to make a formal request for inspection facilities.

But again, based on previous experience, such requests are not always agreed.

So we decided to make an unofficial visit, to photograph the motor tyres.

More importantly, we needed to find out how much they weighed.

With the help of the Polish interpreter, we went to the farm, and we climbed on top of the silage.

Suitably armed with some bathroom scales, we weighed one of the tyres, while the client kept watch.

We carefully photographed the results.

After that, we left the area as quickly as possible.

Faced with this evidence, the opposing insurers quickly admitted responsibility for the accident.

The client successfully obtained his compensation.

I remember this case in particular, because of the unpleasant attitude of my client’s boss.

On one occasion the boss said to him: “If you don’t like it here, then go home to Poland”.

I also remember the rural isolation in which my client worked.

In the circumstances, doubtless some employers are ready to take full advantage, and make their workers do excessive lifting.

Farm accident compensation
To discuss your possible claim, please call me today, on 0845 021 2222
Thanks for visiting, Boris Kremer Continue reading “Farm accident compensation”

Compensation for back injury

Please click the images to expand them…

I previously acted for a Romanian labourer.

He was working for a construction firm, on a building site in West London.

At the site, a new housing estate was being constructed.

The work was at an advanced stage. All the roadways within the housing estate had already been tarmacked.

At that stage, the site manager then realised that there was a problem with some of the kerbstones.

To explain this, at the entrance to one of the parking bays, “drop kerbs” should have been installed, to allow cars to drive in and out easily.

Instead, normal kerbstones had been installed.  These needed to be replaced.

Due to the weight of kerbstones, an excavator is normally used to transport them.

The difficulty was, an excavator would have destroyed the fresh tarmac.

To get round the problem, my client’s boss ordered him to remove the kerbstones using a wheelbarrow.

While pushing the wheelbarrow loaded with kerbstones, my client suffered severe back pain.

As result he collapsed on the ground.  He went to hospital.  The medical records contained an exact description of what had happened.

We claimed compensation for his back injury, against the employers.

Surprisingly, the employers denied all knowledge of the accident.

Bizarrely, the employers later alleged that my client’s back injury was caused by a co-worker, after giving him a “huge bear hug”.

My client described this allegation as “surreal”.

With the assistance of an interpreter, we decided to return to the same place, to stage a reconstruction.

By now, 3 years had gone past since the accident. The completed housing estate was now surrounded by security fencing, with a keypad entry system.

We purchased a wheelbarrow from a nearby DIY superstore.

After that, we entered the housing estate, which was shoehorned into a long, narrow piece of land.

Using the wheelbarrow, the client then re-enacted his exact sequence of movements leading to his collapse.

We showed the resultant photographs to the other side.

However, they continued to deny all responsibility for the accident.

As a result, the claim proceeded to trial, at the County Court at Central London.

At trial, the other side’s witnesses were mumbling and monosyllabic. At one stage, the judge had to tell them to the answer the questions properly.

In complete contrast, my client spoke clearly and decisively. He never once changed his version of events.

The judge decided that my client was the more convincing.

I remember this case mainly because of the bizarre version of events that the other side put forward, to avoid paying compensation.

I found it incredible that they were prepared to repeat these falsehoods, even in front of a judge.

Back injury compensation
To discuss your possible claim, please call me today, on 0845 021 2222
Thanks for visiting, Boris Kremer Continue reading “Compensation for back injury”

Cement Factory Accident near London

One of my most disturbing compensation claims followed an accident at work at a cement factory.

Involved in the accident were 4 workmen. One of them was tragically killed.

Lafarge 1 LargeTwo of the workmen (including the dead man) were Polish. The remaining 2 workmen were British.

At the time, the cement company operated a big factory at Northfleet, on the Thames Estuary, about 20 miles east of London.

The factory contained cement kilns. Inside these, cement was baked at high temperatures. The kilns resembled very large factory chimneys, lying horizontally.

Please click on the photographs, to see larger images of the factory.

About the Cement Kilns

Each kiln was about 200 metres long. While the cement was baking, the kilns rotated slowly, powered by large electric motors.

The external shell of each kiln was made of steel.

Lafarge 2 LargeTo insulate the outer shell and prevent it melting in the high temperatures caused by the baking process, the kilns had an internal lining.

This lining consisted of fireproof bricks, reinforced by concrete sections.

Originally there had been 6 kilns at the factory. But the company was gradually reducing its operations on site, intending eventually to close down completely. As a result, only 2 kilns still remained in operation.

The System of Maintenance

Although this is difficult to prove, the workmen suspected that the company was no longer undertaking long-term maintenance.

Instead, the company appeared to be relying upon short-term “fixes”, as and when required.

Lafarge 3 LargeAs a result, the 2 remaining kilns were increasingly unreliable. Almost every week, part of the internal fireproof lining would collapse, while the kiln was rotating.

When this happened, the company would shut off the power. Before the lining could be repaired, the kiln would need to cool off. This took roughly 24 hours.

After that, a team of workmen would go inside the still-warm kiln, to install fresh brickwork and concrete.

About the Accident

Breakdowns were always treated as an emergency. So after the kiln had cooled sufficiently, the workmen were summoned urgently to the factory. It was a cold, dark winter morning.

Lafarge 4 LargeAfter initial safety checks, the workmen went inside the kiln. The floor inside was littered with collapsed brickwork. The men started clearing up.

Suddenly, without warning, part of the concrete lining above the men collapsed.

The men were showered with large concrete lumps.

Tragically, the falling concrete killed one of the Polish men instantly.

Even more tragically, his son was standing about 1 metre away. He watched in horror, as his father was crushed to death.

One of the British workmen was trapped under another concrete section. He was still alive and screaming for help.

Lafarge 5 LargeThe other British workman desperately tried to drag the concrete away. As a result he suffered a back injury.

From seeing his father killed, the surviving Polish worker was psychologically injured. For a long time afterwards, he felt very uncomfortable being inside confined spaces, fearing that the roof would fall on him. This even affected him while standing in church, at his own wedding, 2 years later.

The Compensation Claim

At the beginning of the case, one of the British workmen showed me around the factory. I took a large number of photographs. As the factory closed down shortly afterwards, these photographs proved to be very useful later.

I put forward compensation claims on behalf of all 3 surviving workmen, and also on behalf of the family of the dead Polish man.

Surprisingly, the opponents denied any responsibility.

Lafarge 6 LargeThe cement factory had lawyers near London. Their lawyers alleged that no accident of this type had ever happened a cement factory before. For this reason they said the accident was completely unpredictable. They refused to pay compensation.

The Health and Safety Executive became involved. They started a long, complex investigation. Expert engineering reports were obtained.

Because one of the men had been killed, an inquest took place, in Gravesend. At the inquest, a great deal of fresh evidence emerged for the first time, concerning the previous difficulties with the kilns.

Throughout the case, the opponents continued to deny blame. But after a long, hard battle, they finally agreed to attend an out of court settlement meeting.

The settlement meeting was held in London. The meeting lasted all day. The solicitors from all sides attended, together with 3 barristers. Thankfully by the end of the afternoon, suitable compensation was agreed.

Lafarge 7 LargeFor a long time afterwards, the Polish client with the psychological injury was haunted by what happened.

Only after he and his wife had their first baby, did his psychological recovery really begin.

Slowly, he began to put the tragic incident behind him.

To see the feedback provided by the family of the dead Polish client, please click here…

Back Injury Compensation

I have previously dealt with several back injury compensation claims. I describe some case studies below. Please click the accompanying images to expand them.

Back Injury Compensation: Saw Operator in Sheffield

In this case, the client worked as a saw operator.

His employers were a firm of stonemasons, and their business was located in a yard in Sheffield.

Sheffield 1 LargeThe client was required to operate an electric saw, as shown in the attached photograph.

The photograph shows a large piece of stone being placed onto a trolley using a crane. The electric saw would remove offcuts, and these would fall to the ground.

The client then had to retrieve these offcuts, and carry them to a pile roughly 30 metres away.

I took the attached photographs during a site visit. As can be seen from the photographs, the yard was very untidy. The client had to tread carefully through mounds of debris, while carrying the heavy pieces of stone.

Furthermore the floor area around the electric saw was ankle deep in slurry, being a mixture of water and ground stone particles.

Another aspect of his work was to deliver individual pieces of stonework around the Sheffield area, for garden rockeries. The client did this unassisted, using a van.

As a result of doing this work, the client had suffered several previous minor episodes of back trouble, although nothing significant.

Matters escalated when the client was required to help deliver a pair of large stone pinnacles.

In the process he felt his back “click”, and he felt extreme back pain.

Sheffield 2 LargeA couple of weeks afterwards the client was lying on his sofa watching television. When he tried to get up, his back locked completely, and he was unable to move.

An ambulance took the client to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, where a prolapsed disc was diagnosed.

Sadly the client never regained his full health, going on to develop cauda equina syndrome.

About a year afterwards, the client sadly died on holiday in Bulgaria, as a result of matters unrelated.

I put forward a back injury compensation claim.

The defendants’ insurers denied responsibility, alleging that they had provided full manual handling training.

Furthermore they strenuously denied that he ever had to lift anything excessive.

Sheffield 3 LargeFinally they alleged that the client never made any complaint about back trouble at the time, and the true cause of his back injury was unrelated to his work.

Both sides obtained medical evidence from orthopaedic surgeons.

Our expert confirmed that the back injury was indeed work-related.

The other side’s expert said that the delay between the accident and the onset of symptoms was significant, which meant that some other factor was the cause.

Our orthopaedic surgeon was unconcerned by the delay, as it was only a fortnight.

He commented that in his experience as a surgeon, he had seen many previous cases where the disc prolapse occurred some while after the traumatic event.

As long as the time interval was no longer than 2 or 3 weeks, then one could say that the two events were connected.

We began legal proceedings. Surprisingly, settlement was achieved soon afterwards.

Back Injury Compensation: Gas Fitter in Warwick

In this case the client was a gas fitter.

On the day of the accident, he and a colleague were working at an industrial estate in Warwick, where they had to install a gas pipe.

Bakewell 1 LargeTheir normal procedure was to dig a trench, and then place the gas pipe at the bottom of the trench, before filling the trench in again.

But on this occasion the job was different because it involved pushing the gas pipe into a very long underground duct.

There were 3 unusually difficult features of the job.

Firstly the duct was 72 metres long, with a kink halfway along.

Secondly the gas pipe was coiled, and the coil was restrained with steel bands. The two men had to contain the coiled pipe from springing open.

Bakewell 2Normally a pipe trailer would be provided, which comprises a winding drum, mounted on small trailer. This is intended to support the weight of the coiled pipe and allow the the men to unwind just as much gas pipe as they needed.

But on the day of the incident, no pipe trailer was available.

Thirdly, in order to access the end of the duct, my client had to dig a hole in the ground, next to the wall of the premises. As a result of this, he was working in a very restricted space.

As the two men struggled with the coiled pipe, the owner of the premises felt compelled to help. He said: “You shouldn’t be doing this, in this day and age”.

While doing this task, the client injured his back.

I put forward a back injury compensation claim against the employers. They denied all responsibility.

Bakewell 3So as to get photographs, we decided to stage a reconstruction. Luckily a length of coiled gas pipe still remained discarded in a corner of the industrial estate.

Using a length of white rope, we marked the position of the hole in the ground in which the client had been standing, and this is shown on the photographs.

Nearby, a large housing estate was being constructed, on what used to be the site of the Humber car factory.

On site were some identical coils of gas pipe. The site manager kindly gave permission for these to be photographed, at these contained warning notices showing that coiled pipes were dangerous and needed to be contained.

Bakewell 4The litigation continued and the opponents continued to deny all liability. It was likely that the claim would run as far as trial.

Unexpectedly the uncoopertive solicitor conducting the claim went on paternity leave. This led to a more senior colleague taking over the claim.

Shortly afterwards the opponents had a complete change of heart. They put forward a substantial offer, and settlement was achieved soon afterwards.

Back Injury Compensation: Excavator Driver in Swindon

In this case the client was an excavator driver from Bristol. He suffered a serious back injury in an accident at work.

The accident took place at Swindon College, in Wiltshire. Construction work was taking place to expand the college.

The client drove a 13 ton excavator, as shown on the attached photographs that the client took with his mobile phone after the accident. Under construction was a part of the site known as “the workshop”. This was going to be the college craft area.

Apart from inside the site office, there was no artificial lighting on site.

White 1Each evening, my client parked his excavator at the spot where he had finished working. Next morning, he would resume working in the same place.

Vandalism was a major problem on the site.

So to prevent damage from vandals, the client had to fix security shutters to the outside of the excavator each evening.

The next morning, the client had to remove the security shutters one by one, and store these in a special container fitted to the outside of the cab.

On the day before the accident, the client had been operating his excavator at a remote corner of the site.

Early the next morning, when he arrived for work, it was pitch dark. The illumination from the site office did not reach as far as where the excavator was parked.

The platform of the excavator was roughly 7-8 feet above the ground. The client walked around the platform, removing each of the 5 security shutters.

While doing so, his left foot got caught on a metal stud, protruding from the floor of the platform.

White 2The client fell, landing on one of the tracks of the excavator.

At first, he only experienced a dull aching. He got into his cab and tried to resume working.

But the pain did not improve. After a couple of days, he realised he had suffered a serious back injury.

I advanced a back injury compensation claim against the employers, who admitted blame almost immediately.

Lengthy medical treatment and investigations then took place.

These investigations revealed that the client was suffering from a pre-existing, although “clinically silent”, back condition.

In this case the opposing insurers and their solicitors were very helpful and co-operative. They made a succession of interim payments, and we eventually negotiated sensible compensation for his back injury.

Common issues arising in back injury compensation claims

A back injury can have devastating consequences. Clients sometimes report the following difficulties:

  • Depression
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Fading away of initial support, as there is no visible injury
  • Constant pain
  • Broken sleep
  • Uncertainty over when the pain will resolve
  • Confusion over the range of medical options
  • Financial difficulties
  • Anxiety over whether to have back surgery
  • Inability to return to work
  • Inability to enjoy sex.

In truth, the stress of making a compensation claim can compound the other problems.

The final straw

With some back injuries, the onset of pain develops gradually.

This often applies in cases involving repetitive lifting.

In such cases, the injury can develop incrementally, which can lead to the injured person’s back being vulnerable to a sudden breakdown.

If so, then it can just take a minor incident for the back to break down completely.

I have previously concluded successful back injury compensation claims, where the “final straw” has been:

  • Bending to apply shrink wrapping to goods on a pallet, after 12 months spent undertaking repetitive lifting at a factory manufacturing portable aircraft runway lights in Birmingham
  • Sneezing during the morning tea break, following a period of 6 months undertaking heavy home deliveries for a catalogue company in Northamptonshire.

What is the legal limit a person should lift at work?

Back injury compensation claims normally take as their starting point the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.

Under the Regulations, there are guidelines (although not mandatory limits) on the maximum safe weight.

The Regulations contain a “lifting and lowering” diagram. Please click on the image to expand it and see the full version.

HSE Back Injury Filter LargeAs can be seen, the recommended maximum weight that a man should be required to lift from head height, close to his body, is 10 kg.

If a man is lifting an object from ankle height, but away from his body, the maximum is 5 kg.

If a man is required to lift something from chest height, but close to his body, then the maximum permissible weight is 20 kg.

Under the Regulations, there are different recommendations in respect of men and women.

The maximum recommended weight that a woman should lift is roughly 30% less than that of a man.

It is not illegal if you have to lift heavier weights than those shown on the diagram.

But if you do, then your employer must show that he took adequate steps to minimise the risk of injury.

Such steps could include:

  • Providing manual handling training
  • Undertaking a manual handling risk assessment
  • In the case of repetitive lifting tasks, providing adequate breaks
  • In the case of lifts involving twisting, rearranging the work station to be more ergonomically appropriate.

The maximum safe weight varies, depending on the situation.

If the lift involves twisting through 45°, then the safe maximum weight is reduced by 10%.

If there is repetitive lifting, then the safe maximum weight can be reduced by 30%.

Tactics used by insurers

In a typical back injury claim, the opponent is generally one of the big “household name” insurance companies.

Insurance companies make strenuous efforts in TV advertising to show themselves as being “cuddly” and “approachable”.

But when fighting them in a back injury compensation claim, they reveal a very different side of their nature.

The following tactics are often encountered:

  • Alleging that there was no accident
  • Blaming everything on a pre-existing back condition
  • Claiming that the injured person is deliberately inflating his symptoms
  • Maintaining that adequate manual handling training was provided
  • Getting a hostile medical report from an unsympathetic orthopaedic surgeon
  • Arranging secret video surveillance
  • Refusing to deal sensibly with the compensation claim until litigation is started.

Generally speaking, insurance companies will try their hardest to avoid paying compensation in a back injury claim, if they possibly can.

Role of the solicitor

In my experience, back injury compensation claims require a certain type of approach.

Effective tactics include the following:

  • Pressing the defendants to give full disclosure of their manual handling training records and risk assessments, if indeed they have any
  • Starting court proceedings if appropriate co-operation from the insurers is not forthcoming
  • Importantly, providing appropriate reassurance to an often anxious client, throughout the lifetime of the case.

Especially where lengthy medical investigations and treatment are required, the claim can sometimes continue for several years.

Thanks for visiting. I look forward to hearing from you.

UK back injury claim legal advice
solicitor dealing with back injury compensation claims
claim compensation for back injury at work

Compensation for back injury after laying floors

Case example – back injury compensation claim after laying floors

Many of my clients have back injuries, following accidents at work.

One such client was in Bristol. He was working as a flooring contractor.

Before the accident, my client had been a floor layer all his working life. He began doing this work aged 17.

Back injury from lifting washing machineTo begin with, my client served an apprenticeship for 3 years. After that he became a self-employed flooring subcontractor.

For several years, my client ran his own flooring business. But eventually this ran into financial difficulties.

He then decided to join a large company, which fitted new flooring in council houses around the Bristol area.

The system of arranging the work

A housing association normally has a schedule of periodic repairs in respect of each house. Flooring would be included in this.

An inspector from the housing association would visit the house in question to assess the floor. If the floor needed replacing, then the inspector would contact the company.

Photo 6The company would then send their own measurer and afterwards prepare a quotation, which would go to the housing association.

After that, the company would contact the person living in the house and agree a date for the repairs.

Quite often a complete new kitchen or bathroom would be required.

If so, then various different tradesmen trades would all have to attend.

These would include a kitchen fitter, plasterer, painter and so on. The flooring would always be done last.

In a typical day, my client would do two kitchens and one bathroom on average.

Heavy lifting tasks

Before fitting the new floor in kitchens, my client had to move everything out of the way.

This included moving washing machines, fridges, freezers, dishwashers, cookers and so on.

Photo 2As far as electric cookers were concerned, these were permanently wired to an electric point on the wall, so could not be unplugged.

For this reason my client had to physically pick up the electric cooker and place this on the worktop, so that it could remain connected throughout.

Electric cookers were awkward to pick up, and frequently slippery, as a result of accumulated cooking oil.

Furthermore my client had to pick them up and put the cookers down carefully, to avoid them becoming damaged.

As far as dishwashers were concerned, these were heavy and awkward, and frequently filled with dishes.

As regards the washing machines, these were particularly heavy, because they are weighted at the bottom.

No manual handling training was provided.

Photo 3To avoid back injury compensation claims, the company provided a sack trolley. However many of the council houses were chaotic inside.

This meant it was not always possible for the sack trolley to be used.

In the months leading to the accident, my client started to experience twinges of back pain.

Collapse at work

On the day of the accident, my client was laying a floor in the kitchen of a small terrace house in Bristol, located in a narrow, steeply sloping street.

When my client arrived at the house, all the other trades had finished their work. He simply had to fit the floor.

The inside of the house was piled high with rubbish. A couple was living there, together with some teenage children.

At the back of the house was a narrow kitchen. The washing machine was located close to the back door.

Photo 7Before laying the new floor, my client had to move the washing machine out of the way.

Because of the layout of the kitchen, his only option was to remove the washing machine out through the back door.

Leading from the back door into the back garden was a step down of roughly 9 inches.

To begin with, my client jiggled the washing machine forwards, and away from the wall. He then jiggled it as close as possible to the back door.

After that, he lifted the washing machine over the threshold and out of the house.

So as not to damage the washing machine, he had to pick up and place it down carefully.

This meant lifting and simultaneously reaching forward.

back injury compensation claimIn the process, my client felt a paralysing pain in his buttock and leg. He literally collapsed on the floor and was unable to stand up.

My client lay on the floor for 10 minutes, unable to move. The lady living there asked if he was all right. She helped him to his feet.

After that he completed the job.

When he returned to the depot, he reported the accident verbally to the contracts manager.

The back injury compensation claim

Originally the client instructed a compensation lawyer in Bristol.

However the opposing solicitors denied liability. They said there was no record of the accident.

Faced with this refusal, my client’s original solicitors advised that his claim was unlikely to succeed.

He therefore hunted on the internet for a new lawyer willing to continue his back injury compensation claim.

We spoke on the telephone and I advised that to turn the situation around, we needed photographic evidence. In particular, we needed to stage a photographic reconstruction.

Photo 5This in turn required a washing machine. For this purpose, the client agreed to construct a full-scale model washing machine out of wood and cardboard.

Once the client had done this, I visited him in Bristol, and we drove to the house where the accident had happened.

The lady living there was a dinner lady at a nearby school.

She agreed to let us into the house, carrying the cardboard washing machine with us.

Once inside, I was appalled by the chaos and the smell. Rubbish was everywhere.

We carried the cardboard washing machine into the kitchen.

Using the cardboard washing machine, the client then re-enacted his exact sequence of movements on the day of the accident.

Photo 8As he did so, I took a sequence of photographs.

The lady living there also kindly provided a statement, confirming that the accident had taken place.

Faced with this photographic evidence, the opposing solicitors agreed to pay compensation, and we went on to win the case.

The client was pleased to receive compensation for his back injury.

Accident on London Construction Site

Cornel is a Romanian carpenter.

At the time of the accident, he was working on a large building site in West London.

Together with an Albanian co-worker, he was constructing a lift shaft.

Their work involved assembling formwork, designed to hold shuttering.

Cornel Sketch LargeOnce the shuttering was complete, then the next stage was to pour in the concrete.

After the concrete had set, then the shuttering and formwork could be dismantled. The pair would then reassemble the same formwork on the next floor up.

In this way, they progressed upwards, floor by floor.

When people are working on a tall building, safety harnesses should always be worn. In fact, it is a legal requirement for the supervisor to check this.

Cornel and his colleague were working many feet above ground level. But despite this, the pair were not wearing safety harnesses.

There was a method statement. But this gave no real guidance about how the lift shaft should be constructed.

Fear at Work

Finally the foreman was an aggressive and intimidating character.

He made it perfectly clear that the work should be done at maximum speed.

Cornel Sketch 2 LargeI have dealt with many cases where workers from Eastern Europe live in constant fear of losing their jobs.

Faced with an overbearing boss, many workers rush to complete the work.

In theory, a worker should refuse to start the job, until proper safety equipment is provided.

But in reality, this never happens.

Accident Description

After we started the compensation case, I obtained an expert report from an independent consulting engineer.

The engineer advised that scaffolding should have been provided. That way, Cornel and his colleague could stand safely inside the lift shaft.

Standing on scaffolding boards, they could have safely constructed and dismantled the formwork.

But no scaffolding had been provided.

Immediately before the accident, Cornel was trying to dismantle the formwork from the gap where the lift door was going to be.

As he did so, he lost his footing and fell all the way to the bottom of the lift shaft.

Fellow workers heard his screams for help, and they came to his assistance.

Cornel was taken to hospital, where he was discovered to have suffered serious injuries to his ankle and arm.

Dirty Tricks

Cornel remained in hospital for several days.

During that time, the health and safety manager of his employers paid him a visit in hospital.

Cornel Locus 1 LargeThe manager tried to make Cornel sign some papers, designed to make him confess blame for the accident.

Despite being bedridden, vulnerable and on medication, Cornel refused to sign anything.

I visited Cornel in hospital and we prepared a series of sketches, showing exactly how the accident had happened.

The sketches later became important evidence in the successful Health and Safety Executive prosecution of the defendants.

Cornel is right-handed. Our orthopaedic surgeon later confirmed that he would have great difficulty in working as a carpenter in the future.

About the claim

I made a claim against his employers.

As Cornel was unable to work, I obtained an interim payment. When the money ran out, I asked for a further payment, but this was refused.

As a result we issued court proceedings.

A Defence was received that admitted most of the blame. However the opponents insisted on blaming Cornel in part.

I tried to obtain supporting witness statements. The Albanian co-worker was terrified of losing his job, and so refused to co-operate.

However, a number of other Romanian workers gave statements, confirming that Cornel was a good worker who did not take risks.

Furthermore a number of his ex-managers also gave very supportive statements, confirming his good character and reliability.

Secret video evidence

In the meanwhile the opponents did their best to attack the claim.

Cornel Photo LargeThey arranged for a private investigator to follow Cornel, and obtain a secret surveillance video.

The opponents said the video showed that Cornel could walk normally.

When he saw the video evidence, our orthopaedic surgeon Mr Grange was not unduly concerned.

Mr Grange pointed out that Cornel’s shoes were worn very unevenly. This confirmed without any doubt that Cornel walked with a limp.

Secondly the opponents constructed a wooden model of the lift shaft.

They did this to try to convince the judge that the work operation was perfectly safe, and the accident was caused by Cornel’s negligence.

A meeting took place in London with the opposing solicitors, so that we could consider the model.

In Cornel’s opinion, the model was highly inaccurate.

There was an angry mood in the meeting.

Conclusion

Shortly before trial, the opposing solicitors put forward a substantial settlement offer, and this was accepted.

In my opinion, this case demonstrates the kind of “dirty tricks” that defendants often use to escape paying compensation.

Feedback Cornel Tomescu LargeImagine visiting a sick man in hospital, and pressurising him to sign documents.

Luckily Cornel had the strength of character to resist.

It makes me wonder how many other injured workers would have crumbled under such pressure tactics.

To see Cornel’s comments about the case, please click the image above.

English Farm Accident

Each summer, many Eastern Europeans come to Britain, to work on farms.

Farm 2 Small MarginOne of my clients is a Polish student named Sylwia, who suffered bad injuries on a strawberry farm in Kent.

Sylwia is studying for a master’s degree in administration.

She would pick fruit in England each summer, to earn money for her studies.

During the fruit picking season, Sylwia and the other foreign workers lived on a farm near Canterbury, in south east England.

On the farm there were approximately 30 or 40 workers, mainly Poles, Russians, Romanians and Latvians.

The foreign workers on the farm lived in caravans.

Sylwia shared her caravan with 5 other workers.

Most of the Eastern Europeans on the farm got the job through “word of mouth”.

Others found the job through an agency.

The system of growing strawberries

On the farm, the strawberries are grown inside polythene tunnels.

Farm 3 Small MarginThe tunnels are often several hundred metres long.

Inside the tunnels the strawberries grow on “grow bags”, mounted on long, thin platforms. The platforms rest on stilts.

The platforms have a built-in irrigation system, to water the strawberry plants.

The irrigation is switched on several times per day.

As a result of the irrigation system, the ground gets very wet.

This problem is particularly bad in the afternoons. The ground is usually dry in the mornings.

Furthermore, in that part of south east England, the soil is rich in clay.

This means that when the weather is wet, the soil becomes extremely slippery.

The workers walk up and down the aisles, picking the strawberries on each side and placing these in punnets.

Farm 4 Small MarginThe punnets are placed on trays, 9 punnets per tray.

Using a trolley, the workers then transport the trays to the quality-control table.

Here a superviser sorts out the strawberries into different grades.

After that, a lorry collects the strawberries and takes them away.

There is a quota system.

If the workers fail to pick sufficient quantities of strawberries, then there are two successive warnings.

After the third warning the worker is sent home.

Sylwia’s accident

The accident happened on Sylwia’s birthday.

Farm 5 Small MarginThat morning, 2 or 3 minibuses had arrived at the caravans at about 5:30 a.m.

The minibuses took the workers to another farm, about 20 miles away.

It was raining, and the farm was extremely muddy.

The mud was so deep that it overcame the tops of Sylwia’s boots.

Many people had problems slipping.

This made it very difficult to carry the trays of fruit.

A lorry came to collect the strawberries.

The lorry driver was a Polish man named Grzegorz.

The passenger in the lorry was another Polish man named Mateusz.

Sylwia’s accident happened when she walked past the lorry.

Farm 7 Small MarginSuddenly, Mateusz reached over and grabbed her hat.

Sylwia immediately tried to grab it back.

At that precise moment, Grzegorz started moving the lorry forwards.

Sylwia slipped on the wet ground, and the front wheel of the lorry ran over her foot.

Sylwia was in agonising pain, and she felt faint.

One of the Polish supervisors was called Mariola.

Mariola told the workers to keep quiet about the accident, to prevent the driver from losing his job.

For this reason they invented a story that Sylvia had simply fallen over.

Farm 9 SmallSylwia was taken to hospital in an ambulance.

Some of other workers went to the hospital with her.

They told the ambulance crew that Sylwia had simply fallen, even though this was untrue.

As a result of the accident, Sylwia’s left ankle was broken in 3 places.

An operation took place, and metalwork was inserted on both sides of the ankle.

The operation lasted 1.5 hours.

The legal claim

I sent a letter of claim to the farm, but they ignored this.

I therefore obtained a court order against them.

Farm 10 Small MarginFinally their insurers responded.

They were less than pleased to learn about the attempt to conceal the true cause of the accident.

This resulted in a full admission of liability.

Comments about the case

I visited the farm after the accident, accompanied by my Polish interpreter.

The first thing that I noticed was the general atmosphere of fear among the foreign workers on the farm.

The workers there have no rights at all.

If they fail to meet their quotas, then they are sent home.

People were nervous, and nobody wanted to be photographed.

Despite this, we went into the large tunnels and photographed the system of growing strawberries.

All the time we were there, the workers accompanying us were looking nervously around, in case the boss returned.

Farm 11 Small MarginSecondly, I had expected to find an atmosphere of camaraderie among the foreign workers.

But this expectation was wrong.

Instead of supporting her, Sylvia’s work colleagues preferred to lie about the accident, just to protect their jobs.

Luckily the truth about the accident eventually emerged.

Back injury at work compensation

I have previously dealt with several back injury compensation claims and would like to describe a recent example.

Please click the photos to expand them.

Back Injury: Polish production line worker at Somerset cheese factory

My client in this case was a Polish man, named Krzysztof.

back-injury-4Before coming to live in England, Krzysztof worked as a security guard. Before that, he was a sniper in the Polish Army.

Through an agency, Krzysztof found employment at a cheese factory in south west England.

His job there was production line operator.

At the factory there were about 80 employees, working in 3 shifts.

Employed at the factory was a mixture of foreign nationalities, with large numbers of Poles and Portuguese.

Blocks of cheese emerged from an arch, on a conveyor belt.

Each block of cheese weighed about 20 kg.

back-injury-5Around each block of cheese was a protective wrapper.

At the end of the conveyor belt was a bar. Krzysztof was required to roll each block of cheese over the bar and onto an adjacent table.

Once he had placed each block of cheese on the table, he would use a knife to remove the protective wrapper.

After that, Krzysztof would pick up the cheese block and carry it roughly 1.5 m to the second part of the production line, shown in the photos on the left.

Working in this way, Krzysztof processed several blocks of cheese per minute.

Safety training

After working at the factory for about a week, Krzysztof attended an induction course. As part of this, Krzysztof watched a film.

back-injury-1The film covered the history of the firm, and the correct technique for cutting the protective coating away from the cheese.

After watching the film, Krzysztof signed a contract. He then returned to his work.

Several months later, the company provided training in safe lifting techniques. Roughly half a dozen Polish employees attended the course, together with an interpreter.

The training included a demonstration of how to pick up a cardboard box safely from ground level.

Problems with the production line

Krzysztof had to work at top speed, so as to keep pace with the production line process.

Krzysztof’s hours of work were 06:00 to 14:00. The first break was at 08:00, and the second break was 10:30am.

No job rotation was offered.

back-injury-9The factory contained 3 production lines.

Krzysztof’s main task was to operate production line 3. But his employers would often order him to operate more than one production line at the same time.

When they did so, Krzysztof would ask if somebody could help him.

But the the manager’s normal response was: “If you don’t like it, there’s the door”.

Dismissal was constantly threatened.

The beginning of Krzysztof’s back pain

Krzysztof’s back pain started slowly.

At first, he did not realise that the problem was serious.

His family in Poland sent painkillers. He hoped that these would cure the problem.

back-injury-2After that, Krzysztof began informing his manager regularly that he his back hurt.

His manager would “laugh it off”, and tell him to work more quickly.

Matters came to a head several months later. Krzysztof started work as normal at 06:00. But by 07:00 his back was so painful that he had to go home.

Krzysztof returned to Poland for treatment.

He never returned to his production line job at the cheese factory.

His back pain continues.

About the injury compensation claim

Together with the Polish interpreter, I went to meet Krzysztof.

back-injury-8We brought with us some tresle tables. Using these, we set up a production line, in the carpark outside Krzysztof’s house.

To represent a block of cheese, we used a washing up bowl.

After that, we filmed Krzysztof’s movements. The photos show him bending, twisting and liftting repetitively.

Using the stopwatch on his mobile phone, the interpreter timed the complete operation.

Next I arranged for Krzysztof to be examined by an independent neurosurgeon. He also studied the filmed reconstruction.

In the opinion of the neurosurgeon, Krzysztof’s back injury definitely resulted caused his work.

I sent a formal letter of claim to the factory.

Their solicitors denied the claim, alleging that the work operation was perfectly safe.

back-injury-6I requested permission to enter the factory for an inspection.

This request was denied.

Court proceedings were then issued.

As part of this process, I sent the opposing solicitors a copy of our medical report.

I also sent them a CD-ROM containing the photos taken during the reconstruction.

Soon afterwards the opposing solicitors offered compensation.

We rejected the initial offer and pushed for more. Final compensation was negotiated without a trial being required.

Krzysztof appeared pleased with the result.

Concluding remarks

In my opinion, this is yet another case where foreign workers are treated unfairly in the UK.

back-injury-7For such workers, threats and intimidation are a depressingly normal part of daily working life.

Not understanding the English language, and not understanding their rights, places such workers in a vulnerable position.

If one foreign worker resigns because of an injury, there are always plenty more workers desperate enough to take their place.

Many thanks for visiting. I look forward to hearing from you.

UK back injury claim legal advice. 
solicitor dealing with back injury at work compensation claims

Pothole injury claim

Can I sue the council for a pothole accident?

I have previously dealt with several injury claims for cyclists.

In each case, the front wheel of the bicycle went down a pothole in the road.

Please click the accompanying images to expand them.

Case Study 1: Claim against London Borough of Southwark

I recently acted on behalf of an art student in London.

Pothole Lambeth 3 LargeHe was cycling home one evening after football practice with some friends.

His journey home took him past a supermarket, down an access road, and onto a main road named Hanover Park, where he had to give way.

Exactly at the spot where the double white lines marked the junction with the main road, the front wheel of his bicycle suddenly went down a large pothole.

Despite the size of the pothole (please click to expand the photos), the local council had done nothing to guard the defect, or draw attention to it in any way.

My client was thrown over the handlebars of his bicycle, and onto the road surface.

As a result, he suffered a dislocated elbow. An ambulance took him to hospital.

Pothole Lambeth 1 LargeThe accident came at a particularly awkward time. My client was in the final year of his degree course, part of which involved creating sculptures.

Because of his injury, he was unable to sculpt.

I made a claim against the local council for failing to fix the pothole.

They denied liability, saying that the road was not their responsibility.

The local council blamed the supermarket, which they said owned the access road.

So I redirected the claim against the supermarket, Morrisons.

Title deeds were produced by Morrisons’ solicitors, showing that they did not own the section of roadway where the pothole was located.

Pothole Lambeth 4 LargeFaced with a denial of liability from both potential defendants, preparations were made to start court proceedings.

But at the last minute, the local council made a complete about-face and conceded liability for the pothole.

Appropriate compensation was negotiated soon afterwards.

To see the feedback provided by the client in this case, please click here.

Case Study 2: Claim against Transport for London

In the next case, my client was a web content manager and SEO specialist.

On the night of the accident he was cycling home from a club at Elephant and Castle.

A friend of his from Australia was doing a live show there.

The time was about 2am. My client was in no particular hurry to get home. He was cycling at normal speed.

Pothole Bicycle TFL 5 LargeWithout warning, the front wheel of his bicycle struck a pothole in the road. My client was thrown over the handlebars.

The accident happened at the top of Brixton Road, where it curves past Kennington Park.

The precise spot is near some trees. At night there is no artificial lighting nearby. Because of this, the pothole was less obvious.

My client lay on the ground for about 30 seconds, before he got up and salvaged his bicycle.

A couple of cars slowed down, presumably to offer assistance. But my client waved them away, not realising at first that he was injured.

Pothole Bicycle TFL 3 LargeUpon picking up his bicycle, my client realised that his right wrist was badly hurt.

Somehow or other he managed to ride most of the way home, cycling one-handed.

Changing gear however was impossible, because this requires the right hand.

He arrived home at about 2:45 a.m. He put on ice on his wrist, but it was obvious that he had a serious injury.

Because of this, he woke up his flatmate and she took him to Accident and Emergency at King’s College Hospital.

At hospital, an x-ray revealed that his wrist was fractured. The hospital staff applied a splint.

Pothole Bicycle TFL 1 LargeThe client contacted me. Before anything else, I suggested that he should take photographs.

So he returned to the scene of the accident with his flatmate. They photographed the pothole from all directions.

Unexpected assistance was received from a passing cyclist. He helpfully placed the front wheel of his bicycle in the pothole, give an idea of the scale.

After that, I sent a letter of claim to the London Borough of Lambeth. They referred the matter to their loss adjusters.

The loss adjusters rejected the claim. They alleged that they had an adequate system of inspection, and so there was nothing more they could have done.

The loss adjusters also produced a witness statement from the actual highway inspector responsible for checking the roadway.

Pothole Bicycle TFL 4 LargeAccording to his statement, no pothole was visible on the dates when he inspected.

Documents were disclosed to confirm this. But close inspection of the documents revealed that the final inspection was just 3 days after the accident.

Faced with this evidence, it was highly unlikely that the inspection had been undertaken diligently.

As a result, the loss adjusters agreed to meet 50% of the claim.

We rejected this and issued court proceedings.

The local authority then transferred the conduct of the claim to their solicitors. The latter served a Defence denying liability and alleging contributory negligence.

Pothole Bicycle TFL 6 LargeFurthermore the solicitors tried to argue that, based on the measurements accompanying the photographs, the area of the pothole was less than 100 square centimetres, and this fell outside the council’s intervention levels.

Dusting down my schoolboy knowledge of trigonometry, the same measurements revealed that the pothole in fact had an area of 706.95 centimetres.

Further correspondence then ensued, about whether the above calculations were correct.

Next the council’s solicitors focused upon the medical records, clearly trying to prove that the client was drunk at the time. Again, this line of objection led nowhere.

Finally with allocation questionnaires about to be filed, the opponents advanced reasonable settlement proposals and these were accepted.

To see the feedback provided by the client in this case, please click here.

Pothole Bicycle TFL 7 LargeIn my opinion, this case is yet another example of how local authorities often fail to deal sensibly with an entirely justifiable pothole accident claim.

Instead of making a prompt admission of fault, the local authority preferred to argue ceaselessly.

Ultimately the only result was an escalation of legal costs, which the local authority had to pay.

Thanks for visiting.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Tripped on a pavement? Get compensation for your injury

I have handled several pavement trip injury compensation claims against local councils.

To win a case of this type, we have to prove certain facts.

Public Land

First of all, we have to prove that the accident happened on land “maintained at public expense”.

pavement trip injury compensation SouthamptonProving that the local authority owned the land is not always straightforward.

Quite often, the land actually turns out to be private.

Sometimes utility companies, such as gas or water suppliers, caused the tripping hazard.

If so, then they can be responsible, and not the local council.

Highways Act 1980

However in most cases the compensation claim will be on the basis of breach of the Highways Act 1980.

pavement trip injury compensation ReadingUnder the Act, the local council has a statutory duty to “maintain the highway”. This includes footpaths.

To meet that duty, the local council must demonstrate that it had a suitable system for the pavement to be regularly inspected, and fixed if necessary.

To be realistic, if the local council proves it had an adequate system of inspection, then the claim will go no further.

Contributory Negligence

Quite often, the local council will try to blame the injured person.

pavement trip injury compensation Weymouth In previous cases I have dealt with, the solicitors acting for the local council have accused the injured person of being drunk.

Other common accusations are failure to wear glasses, failure to keep a proper lookout and even prior knowledge of the defect.

Generally speaking, such accusations do not withstand close scrutiny.

Why should somebody have to “look at the ground with every step he takes”?

Pavement trip injury compensation: case study 1

The first case study concerns a pavement trip accident in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.

pavement trip injury compensation Leamington SpaThe accident happened outside some council flats.

Between the flats and the pavement was a concrete path.

At the point where the path met the pavement, an old tree root had been allowed to disrupt the pavement.

While carrying some photocopier supplies out to his nearby car, the client tripped and broke his ankle.

Just two days before his accident, the client had started his own business, selling reconditioned photocopiers internationally.

The accident badly disrupted his new business for the first year of trading.

Trip Leamington 2 LargeI advanced a compensation claim against Warwick District Council.

The local authority’s solicitors denied liability.

On arrival at Warwick Hospital after the accident, an incorrect entry had been made in the records.

The Accident and Emergency admission card stated that the accident had occurred while the client was in his garden shed.

The local authority’s solicitors seized upon this, stating that the accident was nothing to do with the pavement.

To counter this, we took photographs showing that the shed was packed with junk, and it was physically impossible to get inside.

Trip Leamington 3 LargeNevertheless shortly before trial, the local authority put forward compensation proposals that were accepted.

Settlement was achieved roughly two years after the accident.

Despite the claim, the pavement had still not been repaired by then.

Pavement trip injury compensation: case study 2

The next case study is from Kings Heath, a suburb of Birmingham.

In that case, the tripping hazard was directly outside the client’s home.

pavement trip injury compensation Birmingham 1 The problem was a protruding manhole cover. All round it, the pavement was broken.

Severn Trent Water had recently installed an inspection box, so they could check the water mains.

But they had failed to reinstate the pavement again afterwards.

As can be seen from the photograph, the result was an area of rubble.

My client tripped there and fractured her ankle.

She required an operation to insert a plate and pins.

Trip Kings Heath 2 LargeFollowing her operation, my client was immobile for several weeks. This was particularly awkward because she had 3 young children.

Her mother and sisters helped around the house generally, until she had recovered sufficiently.

I made a compensation claim against Birmingham City Council and also against Severn Trent Water.

Clearly one of them was to blame, yet they both denied liability.

Accordingly I started court proceedings.

Trip Kings Heath 4 LargeThe two defendants appointed one firm of solicitors, to represent them both.

Liability for the accident was then conceded.

The litigation continued for a further period until sensible compensation was offered.

Pavement trip injury compensation: case study 3

The next pavement trip accident took place in Kingstanding, a blue collar district of North Birmingham.

The hazard in this case consisted of a large manhole cover.

Trip Kingstanding 1 LargeThis had been installed so that it protruded above the surrounding pavement.

There had been absolutely no attempt to make the manhole cover flush with the surrounding footpath.

My client uses a walking stick, following a previous motorcycle injury. He was walking home in the dark.

On the way home, he tripped over the manhole cover and fell to the ground.

The next morning he had severe back pain and was unable to move.

As a result, he called an ambulance and attended at the Good Hope Hospital.

Trip Kingstanding 2 LargeI put forward a claim against Birmingham City Council.

Their loss adjusters admitted liability promptly.

In that case, appropriate compensation was agreed without the need to issue court proceedings.

Pavement trip injury compensation: case study 4

The next case study is from Erdington, in North Birmingham.

Trip Erdington 1 LargeThis time the hazard was a hole in the pavement.

The hole was an unguarded utilities access chamber. This was originally intended to have a lid, but the lid was missing.

The resulting hole was roughly 4 inches square.

When her accident happened, my client was with a group of friends. They were returning to her house, from the pub.

My client’s foot went down the hole, and she tripped and fell.

Trip Erdington 2 LargeHer ankle was hurting badly, so she went to the Good Hope Hospital.

X-rays were taken, but the hospital failed initially to spot the the ankle was fractured, and this delayed her treatment by several days.

I arranged an independent orthopaedic examination.

Luckily the prognosis was for a complete recovery.

Furthermore the delayed diagnosis was not judged to be significant.

I then made a compensation claim against the council and against Severn Trent Water.

They agreed to pay compensation, and to share liability between them on a 50/50 basis.

Appropriate damages were eventually negotiated.

Making a claim against the council – Tactics used by local authorities

Most pavement trip compensation claims are contested.

Presumably, local authorities want to prevent the “floodgates” from opening.

Faced with a claim, the council and its loss adjusters and/or solicitors will often try to avoid responsibility.

Common allegations include the following:

  • The land was private, and so not under the council’s control
  • Third party contractors were responsible
  • The defect had arisen suddenly, so was not picked up by the monthly inspections
  • The claimant “overbalanced and fell”, or “failed to look where he was placing his feet”

The role of the solicitor

Based on experience, such claims require a particular approach.

The solicitor must:

  • Swiftly get photographs of the pavement before the evidence is destroyed
  • Ask the local council to disclose its inspection records
  • Do a Land Registry search, if the local council denies owning the land
  • Start court proceedings if co-operation from the local authority is not forthcoming.

Obtaining photographs

As stated above, it is always sensible to obtain photographs.

On occasions, the accident results from a smooth dip or hollow, in a tarmac pavement.

If so, then the best method is to place a metre rule over the top. You can then measure the distance from the rule to the bottom of the dip.

Trip Weymouth 2 LargeOn the left is a photograph showing this method, from a claim against Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, where liability has been conceded.

Long-range photographs are helpful. These should show the hazard in relation to nearby landmarks, such as a street name or house number.

Photographs should be taken from “all points of the compass”, showing the defective footpath as seen by pedestrians approaching from different directions.

The last word

If you would like an initial free assessment of your potential pavement trip injury compensation claim, please:

  • Send me some photos of the defective pavement, using the email address bhmk108 AT gmail.com. (Please insert the @ manually. I have excluded it here as a simple anti-spam measure) and
  • Telephone me personally on 0845 021 2222.  If you prefer, I can call you back.

Thanks for visiting. I look forward to hearing from you.

Accident at Work Claim

This case concerned a Romanian labourer, living in London.

Manescu 1 at 1100 by 800 pxHe suffered a serious hand injury, in an accident at work.

The accident happened when he was manoeuvring a trolley containing plasterboards.

Without warning, the side of the trolley broke, causing the plasterboards to fall onto him.

As a result he suffered a broken right leg and crushed left index finger, the tip of which had to be amputated.

About the job

The client got the job at an unofficial labour exchange, outside a pub in Cricklewood, North London.

Immediately before accepting the job, he had been out of work for several days.

Manescu 2 at 1100 by 800 pxOn the morning of the accident he arrived at the pub car park, hoping to be offered a labouring job.

At around 7 a.m. a pickup arrived, containing two Romanians.

They told him that workers were needed for a job in Luton, a town about 20 miles north of London.

£50 per day was offered verbally. The client accepted this, and so they hired him.

The Romanians then drove to Luton, where the client started work at 8 a.m.

The job consisted of the refurbishment at a large office building.

Working there were approximately 15 men.

Among these were 4 Romanians, and the remainder were a mixture of different nationalities.

Accident description

Upon arrival, the client was put to work straight away, transporting plasterboards.

The plasterboards came in through a window. A forklift truck was parked outside the building, and this repeatedly lifted pallets containing plasterboards up to window height.

Together with the other Romanians, the client would then reach out of the window and slide the plasterboards into the room.

They would then place the plasterboards onto a trolley.

Manescu 3 at 1100 by 800 pxThe trolley had 2 fixed wheels, and 2 swivelling castor wheels.

At one side of the trolley was a barrier, designed to hold the plasterboards in place.

The client received his instructions from a foreman, with the assistance of an interpreter.

Once the trolley was filled with 35 plasterboards, the foreman then directed him to push the trolley to wherever the plasterboards were needed.

The accident happened when the trolley was full.

The client was in the process of turning the trolley from the back end, before moving it away.

Another Romanian was standing on the other side, simultaneously pushing the front end round.

As they did so, the barrier on the side of the trolley suddenly broke. The plasterboards then collapsed on top of the client, who was trapped underneath.

Three fellow workers helped to get him free.

The company ordered a co-worker to take the client to hospital in Luton.

The tip of his left index finger could not be saved, and this injury is shown in the photographs.

About the compensation claim

The client approached me to legal advice. He gave instructions to pursue a claim for his accident at work.

Unfortunately, as he did not speak English and had been recruited casually, the client did not know the name of the company that had employed him.

No documentation had been provided to him.

I therefore did a Land Registry search, which revealed the owners of the building.

A letter of claim were sent to them, which they ignored. I therefore issued an application for pre-action disclosure against that company and successfully obtained an order.

The company ignored the order as well. In fact, they refused to pay the costs until a further application was issued. Eventually these costs were paid.

Incredibly, the company denied all knowledge of the accident. This was despite having arranged for the client to be taken to Luton Hospital following the accident.

Robust correspondence followed. Hospital records were obtained, proving that the client had attended at Luton Hospital, and so he was telling the truth about his accident at work.

The defendants continued to deny everything. They said they had never even employed the client in the first place.

It then emerged that the company was without insurance.

Furthermore their main asset, the office block building, was in deep negative equity.

This meant that was no prospect of getting compensation, even if we won the case.

So with reluctance, the claim had to be abandoned.

A more disturbing case is difficult to imagine.

After accepting employment in good faith, the client became injured, after which the company cynically disowned him.

The director of the company is a high profile property developer. He is currently involved in a string of other projects.

Behind him he leaves a Romanian labourer with a serious injuries, and with no opportunity of obtaining redress.

RSI Compensation Claim

Can I claim compensation for RSI?

RSI compensation claim – Can I claim compensation for RSI?

I previously assisted a Lithuanian lady named Laima, who worked at a chicken processing factory near Norwich, in Eastern England.

Laima’s work involved cutting up chickens, on a production line.

She had to remove the legs, wings and breasts.

After doing this work for a couple of years, both her hands became extremely painful.

Laima visited a doctor, who confirmed she was suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.

The doctor also said she had epicondylitis in one arm.

As a result, Laima underwent two carpal tunnel release operations.

About the factory

There were roughly 200 workers at the factory.

The vast majority were foreigners, including many Lithuanians, Poles and Portuguese.

There were two shifts, an early shift and a late shift.

The company provided gloves and hats.

For cutting up the chickens, the company provided knives and scissors.

When Laima first started working at the factory, she was in the “packing shop”, which was where the chickens were packed.

After that, she was transferred to the “cutting shop”, where there was a production line for cutting up chickens.

About the production line

The production line consisted of a series of moving metal poles.

On each pole, a chicken was impaled.

This meant that the chickens moved past in a continuous moving line.

In Laima’s team were 6 workers. Each worker was required to remove one of the following parts only:

  • Left wing
  • Left breast
  • Left leg
  • Right wing
  • Right breast
  • Right leg

This meant that Laima spent 1 hour removing left wings only, followed by another hour removing right wings, and so on.

The production line was timed. The person removing (for example) left wings, was required to remove 20 left wings every minute, or 1 every 3 seconds.

The factory sold the processed chickens to large supermarkets, which would inspect regularly.

When these inspection visits took place, the factory would reduce the speed of the production line. But after the inspectors had gone, the speed would be increased again.

Fear at work

Laima’s supervisor was from Iraq.

If she and her fellow workers were not fast enough, then the supervisor would shout at them.

Sometimes Laima was permitted to chat with her fellow workers during her shift.

But on other occasions the Iraqi supervisor would make them work in silence, dependent upon his mood.

At the factory, the workers were watched constantly by CCTV cameras.

Laima’s Injuries

When Laima’s wrist pain first started, she told her superviser.

Surprisingly, the supervisor decided to punish Laima, by making her work without rotation.

Eventually Laima needed to take time off work. As a result, the company promised to provide alternative light duties.

But after she returned to work, Laima’s tasks were exactly the same as before.

Laima decided to return home to Lithuania for surgery. The company insisted that she should use her holiday entitlement to do so.

Despite her operations, Laima’s hands remained painful.

This made it difficult for her to do everyday tasks such as washing her hair, housework and so on.

Difficulties with RSI claims

Laima saw my website and contacted the interpreter, to explain the situation.

I have handled RSI compensation claims before, and they are always difficult. This is for two main reasons.

Firstly, if one worker on the production line makes a successful claim, then everybody else working there could do exactly the same.

As a result, factories always fight these kinds of claims very hard, to discourage anybody from starting a trend.

Secondly, it is necessary to get an independent medical report, confirming that the work caused the injury.

But without actually seeing the production line in operation, it is difficult for an independent medical expert to reach any firm conclusions.

Accordingly many RSI claims fail.

Photographic evidence

Clearly for Laima’s compensation claim to advance, we needed photographic evidence.

The difficulty was, with CCTV cameras installed in the workplace, any employees seen taking photographs would be in trouble.

We discussed how to get around these difficulties.

Laima’s husband was a skilled carpenter. He agreed to construct a mock production line in the couple’s back garden. This contained a series of metal poles, just like the real thing.

I then went to the supermarket with the interpreter, and we purchased 10 chickens.

We then returned to Laima’s house and impaled the chickens on the poles. Laima then dismembered each chicken, while I took a series of photographs, showing the sequence of wrist movements.

Laima also obtained a miniature camera. She took this to the factory, where she was able to film the production line secretly, without being observed.

Medical evidence

Once our photographic evidence was complete, I arranged for Laima to attend a medical examination with an independent orthopaedic surgeon, specialising in hand injuries.

The orthopaedic surgeon also considered the medical records in detail.

His firm conclusion was that Laima’s injuries were definitely the result of her work at the factory.

We then started court proceedings.

About the legal claim

We put forward a compensation claim, and the factory denied everything.

But when they saw our photographic evidence, they expressed a willingness to settle.

An out of court was eventually achieved.

From what I have seen over the last few years, Laima’s situation is typical of how many Eastern European workers are treated in Britain.

At least Laima had the courage to fight back, and get compensation for her injuries.

RSI compensation claim, De Quervains tendonitis and epicondylitis.