I recently acted for Mr S, a young man who was injured when he slipped on ice in the communal smoking area outside his workplace just before Christmas. Mr S fractured his ankle in two places, was admitted to hospital and required surgery involving permanent internal metalwork to his ankle. He was kept in hospital for two weeks over the Christmas period.
Mr S returned to work as a market researcher on a graduated basis at the end of February, but he failed to make a good recovery and his symptoms required further time off work. When his contract ended he was unable to find further suitable work which allowed him to work reduced hours and so he returned home to his family in rural Ireland in June.
As the area where Mr S’s accident happened was maintained by the management company for the building housing Mr S’s employers, the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 applied. This states:
2 (1) An occupier of premises owes the same duty, the “common duty of care”, to all his visitors.
2 (2) The common duty of care is a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there.
Very often, these types of claims are successfully defended on the basis that the body with control of the area (the occupier) has taken all reasonable precautions to “de-ice” the area, but unfortunately despite these precautions, the area quickly become icy again which causes an accident. As long as an occupier can show they took “such care as in all the circumstances of the case were reasonable” to ensure a visitor will be “reasonably safe”, they will have a valid defence against a claim. However, given the gravity of Mr S’s injuries, I decided his claim was certainly worth investigating, even if he was unable to ultimately establish fault against the occupier.
Happily, following negotiations with the occupier’s insurers, I was able to secure an admission of fault, albeit with a reduction of 15% from the total compensation to reflect an element of fault (contributory negligence) on the part of Mr S.
The insurers then organised for Mr S to have intensive physiotherapy and counselling whilst at home in Ireland which aided his recovery. I also obtained an interim payment of £5,000 from the Defendants to help with Mr S’s ongoing financial difficulties.
Once Mr S had made some improvement, I organised for him to be seen back in London by a specialist orthopaedic consultant who advised that by this time, he had made a good recovery from his injuries. At the same time I also arranged for Mr S to be seen by a consultant psychiatrist who diagnosed Mr S with depression resulting from the accident and recommended further counselling (the cost of which was included in his claim) to aid his recovery.
I then entered into negotiations with the insurers and was able to agree further compensation of £25,000 (which already took into account the 15% deduction) for Mr S so that he received £30,000 in full and final settlement of his claim.