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Case Study

£160k for Claimant who Suffered an Injury at Work

The claimant’s details have been changed but this is indeed a true case

Phil Mulryne acted on behalf of Mr A, the Claimant pursue claims for compensation following incidents that occurred during the course of the Claimant’s employment.

At the relevant time, the Claimant was employed as a nurse at a healthcare facility which operated a secure unit with high risk patients.

At the time of the first incident, the Claimant was meeting with a patient in a meeting room when he was attacked, causing injuries primarily to his back.

Following the Claimant’s return to work, he was involved in a second incident when he fell and suffered injuries after fleeing and subsequently being attacked by an aggressive patient, collided with another patient causing him to fall to the floor and be kicked by the patient again in the back.

Both claims were put to the Claimant’s employers who denied liability on the basis that they had in place sufficient policies and procedures to protect the staff.

It was the Claimant’s argument that he had not been provided with proper training and the Defendant’s failed to implement a safe system of work or risk assessment. Basically, failing to take care of the Claimant whilst he was working with aggressive patients. It was the Claimant’s case that he should have been accompanied by a colleague at all times when meeting the patient, but he was left alone with the patient in the meeting room and the patient became violent. It was argued that the Defendants failed to implement a safe system of work, and implement an appropriate risk assessment. Basically failing to take safe care of the Claimant whilst he was working.

The second incident occurred because there was insufficient staff on duty at the time to deal with a patient who was exerting threatening and violent behaviour. It was also argued that the Claimant should have been working on lighter duties due to the fact that he had only just returned to work following the first incident.

Both incidents were reported to the police and as a consequence of the investigations following the first incident, the patient was convicted for the assault.

The Claimant developed a serious back injury and underwent surgery in the form of a surgical decompression and discectomy. After an initial improvement, the Claimant’s symptoms significantly exacerbated. He developed chronic pain and this resulted in significant functional disability.

The Claimant was unable to return to work and was retired on ill health grounds. It was clear that the Claimant could not return to his pre-incident type of work, and it was unclear whether or not the Claimant would be able to return to any form of employment due to the severity of his back condition.

Medical evidence was obtained from orthopaedic consultants and also reports from pain management specialists and psychologists. The Defendants were able to rely on their own medical evidence.

Although liability continued to be in dispute, a court date for the determination of the case was allocated.

The Claimant’s medical expert reviewed the evidence and it was both medical experts view that the incident exacerbated pre-existing multi-level degenerative changes in the back, ie that the Claimant would have experienced symptoms had the accident not occurred and that the incidents advanced the pre-existing back conditions.

It was the Defendant’s expert’s view that the first incident increased the symptoms by a period of 1 year and the second incident, 6 months.

It was the Claimant’s medical expert’s view that a longer period of advancement of symptoms was appropriate, but the period of advancement was dependant on the severity of the symptoms resulting from the attacks. The expert suggested an advancement period of somewhere in the region of 4 to 5 years, although possibly only up to a period of 2 years.

The Claimant’s claim initially had been put forward on the basis that all of the Claimant’s ongoing symptoms were accident related (the medical evidence subsequently being clarified to indicate that the Claimant would have developed symptoms in the absence of the accident). He required continued daily assistance from his wife to a significant degree. The Claimant was unable to return to driving and had a stair lift fitted for his property. The Claimant was immobile without using a walking frame and relied on wheelchairs.

There was no doubt that the Claimant had suffered a life changing injury, but the orthopaedic evidence indicated that the Claimant would have experienced significant symptoms in the absence of the incident.

As no agreement was reached between the parties, the matter was allocated a hearing date. Prior to the matter being brought before the Judge, an agreement was reached to settle the claim between the parties.

The Defendants originally put forward an offer of £47,000.00 to settle the Claimant’s claim. This was rejected and increased offers of £100,000.00 and £125,000.00 were put forward which were also rejected. The claim was eventually settled in the sum of £160,000.00.

It is difficult to provide a specific breakdown of the value of the Claimant’s claim. It was assessed that the claim for personal injury damages was worth in the region of £15,000.00. It was assessed that based on the Claimant’s medical evidence, a figure of around £50,000.00 for loss of earnings would be appropriate but we were able to negotiate a higher settlement figure to represent Claimant’s restriction in working capacity generally. There was also a claim put forward representing the assistance that the Claimant had received from his wife following the accident with personal hygiene and his share of household duties, bearing in mind he could not undertake such tasks because of the injuries and in particular, post-surgery. The Claimant was unable to establish the claim on the basis of a continued loss of earnings as a result of the accident, so a compromise had to be reached.

Whilst the orthopaedic evidence was clear in terms of an acceleration period of symptoms, there were psychological aspects to the Claimant’s injuries and a differing view from the pain management expert as regards to the cause of the ongoing symptoms which allowed some scope for negotiation and settlement beyond the valuation based on the orthopaedic evidence, enabling us to negotiate a settlement totalling £160,000.00 on a global basis.

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