I recently settled a claim for a client injured during an accident at work. Mr R was a duct work erector and whilst standing on a tower fitting the pipe work, he stepped backwards and fell through an open hatch on the tower. An employee who was assisting Mr R had left the tower hatch open, after descending from the platform. Mr R grabbed onto a side rail in an attempt to break his fall and as a result he suffered a wrenching injury to his right arm and shoulder.
Mr R instructed me to pursue a claim against his employer for their breach of statutory duties and for the negligence of the assistant employee. The employer after completing a full investigation admitted liability for Mr R’s claim.
Mr R continued to suffer with injuries to his shoulder and was unable to work for some time. In addition, Mr R was no longer able to start a new job in Canada which he was due to start shortly after the accident. I obtained Mr R’s medical records from his GP and the relevant hospital and arranged for him to be seen by a Consultant Orthopaedic who specialises in upper limb injuries. The medical expert diagnosed Mr R with a tear to his rotator cuff and he was required to have surgery followed by physiotherapy. Mr R also began to experience symptoms in his neck for a short period of time before his symptoms began to settle down. The medical expert’s prognosis was that he would make a good recovery although he would be left with permanent minor symptoms.
As a result of the accident, Mr R had also suffered psychological injuries and I instructed a Consultant Psychiatrist to prepare a report. The expert reported that Mr R had suffered mild – moderate depression and frustration from his physical restrictions.
I issued court proceedings on the claim and the employer’s solicitors obtained permission from the court to obtain their own medical evidence. Mr R therefore had to attend medical appointments arranged by the employer’s solicitors. Not surprisingly, the employer’s medical experts did not agree with the opinions given by our medical experts. Their Consultant Orthopaedic stated that Mr R would make a complete recovery within 5 years of the accident and would not have any residual symptoms; and in addition, their Consultant Psychiatrist did not believe that Mr R had suffered from psychological symptoms which amounted to a mild – moderate depression.
I had also prepared a detailed schedule of loss to include details of Mr R’s loss of earnings and other expenses which had arisen as a result of his accident. Once the joint medical reports were prepared for the court, we were in a position to begin negotiations with the employer’s solicitors. Initially, it appeared that settlement may be difficult, due to the disparity in the medical evidence and the employer solicitor’s queries over the schedule of loss.
However, fortunately due to an impending trial date, the employer’s solicitors were prepared to make reasonable settlement proposals. After a brief period of negotiation, Mr R happily agreed to accept an offer of £85,000 in full and final settlement of his case, plus all his legal costs were to be paid by the employers.