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Accidents in Public - Case Studies

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£10,000 compensation for an accident in a supermarket

We acted for Mr Brady, a University Lecturer, who suffered a nasty finger laceration when removing a large 660ml beer bottle from the top shelf of a supermarket drinks display unit. There was insufficient clearance on the top shelf for bottles of that size and the bottle had been placed on display in contravention of the store’s own product placement plan.

The bottle caught the underside of a retractable shutter which had not been fully retracted and was difficult to see. This caused the bottle neck to shatter and the glass lacerated Mr Brady’s finger. We argued that the bottle should have placed on a lower shelf allowing greater clearance for ease of removal and that the supermarket had therefore created a foreseeable risk of this accident occurring.

Responsibility (liability) was denied by the supermarket throughout. We considered the case to have sufficient chances of success and so commenced court proceedings for Mr Brady against the supermarket. Soon after court action was commenced, the supermarket’s solicitors made Mr Brady an offer of settlement which he accepted.

Mr Brady suffered nerve damage to the index finger on his left dominant hand. Surgery was recommended for the finger. We recovered £10,000 in compensation for the injury which is expected to continue to affect Mr Brady in the long term. We also recovered monies to enable Mr Brady to undergo private surgery for the finger as recommended by the plastic surgeon expert we instructed for the case.

£5,000 compensation for faulty seat accident

We recently helped a client who suffered an injury to her coccyx when the stool she sat on in a well-known fast food restaurant gave way beneath her. The stool structure was faulty and had not been maintained properly.

The owners admitted fault for the accident but suggested that our client accept some blame and reduce her damages by 10% claiming that she was under the influence of alcohol at the time of her accident. Our client did not deny that she had consumed a few drinks earlier in the evening but did not accept that this in any way contributed to her accident. In reality, the only reason for her fall was the faulty seat. We argued this point with defiance on our client’s behalf. The other side had no evidence to suggest that alcohol played any part and eventually bowed to our pressure and dropped this argument.

The claim was settled without the need for court action and on a 100% basis. Our client was very keen to secure an early and quick settlement despite some ongoing symptoms. We secured compensation of £5000 which included an amount to enable her to have injection treatment, as recommended by the medical expert in the case.

Our client was delighted with the outcome achieved and as a thank you requested that we choose a charity to which she could make a donation. As our client’s claim settled during Road Safety Week, promoted by the charity “Brake”, a donation of £75 was made to them by our client.

Brake is a charity dedicated to preventing road death and injury and caring for people bereaved or injured in road crashes. We act for many victims of road traffic accidents here at Aequitas Legal and so were delighted to recommend this charity to our client.

Injury from above

Accidents can happen when you least expect it. Mrs R was walking towards a charity shop and as she went to enter, someone opened a window above her. As the building was poorly maintained the force of the window being opened caused some loose bricks to come tumbling down, hitting Mrs R on her shoulder, narrowly missing her head. Insurers for the building owner accepted that there was poor maintenance and a medical report was quickly obtained with a settlement being reached within a matter of months. Mrs R was delighted with the level of support she received from her solicitor Heather Bailey and the speed of the case being settled.

NHS Patient Wins Settlement for Undiagnosed Fractures

A man who was left in agony after a failed operation has won a six-figure sum in damages.

In October 2004, Gerald Morgan, 60, had a spinal stimulator implanted at the Royal London Hospital to help combat pain he had suffered from for many years. However, when the stimulator was turned on for the first time, it made his muscles contract violently. The force was so great that he was thrown out of his wheelchair and suffered fractures to bones in his pelvis and hips.

Despite the evident pain and bruising that Mr Morgan suffered after the stimulator was turned on, the fractures were not diagnosed and he was sent home three days later. His GP failed to refer him for X-rays, even though Mr Morgan was clearly in considerable pain.

The fractures were not diagnosed until seven months after the operation. By this time, Mr Morgan’s hips and legs had become permanently deformed and he now has to use a wheelchair.

A claim was brought against Barts and the London NHS Trust and against Mr Morgan’s GP. For five years, all liability for Mr Morgan’s injuries was denied. Eventually, however, a six-figure sum in damages was agreed. Mr Morgan is now planning to use the money to buy a home suitable for his needs.

Holidaymakers to Receive Compensation for Illness

A couple whose honeymoon was ruined after the husband was struck down by salmonella and amoebic dysentery have won compensation from the tour operator.

Francis and Beverley Mayes, 49 and 43, were holidaying at the Gran Bahia Principe Hotel, a five-star hotel in the Dominican Republic. Mr Mayes, however, fell ill during their stay and the couple had to delay their return by a week while he was recovering in hospital.

He continued to suffer from the after-effects of the infection for some time after the couple had returned home. Months later, he was still losing weight and was frequently exhausted. The couple soon discovered that he was not the only guest at the hotel to have fallen ill and they decided to make a claim for compensation.

Under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992, tour operators can be held responsible in certain circumstances for injuries sustained by customers whilst on a package holiday. In this case, the tour operator accepted liability and the Mayes are likely to receive a substantial amount in compensation. Nine other individuals are also reported to be claiming compensation after they became ill while staying at the same hotel.

Brain Damaged Patient Wins £3.45 Million

A woman who went into hospital for routine gallstone treatment has been awarded a compensation package worth £3.45 million, after a series of medical blunders left her with severe brain damage.

In January 2001, Grannia East, 44, was admitted for surgery on her bile duct at the Royal Hospital Haslar, a former Royal Navy hospital in Hampshire. Complications meant that doctors had to abandon the operation, however. Mrs East lost a lot of blood and developed acute pancreatitis. She was transferred to another hospital, where doctors discovered a massive stomach bleed. She also developed kidney problems and had to undergo further surgery. Mrs East then suffered a cardiac arrest, which resulted in the injury to her brain. She is now in a wheelchair, has problems with her memory and requires round-the-clock care.

Mrs East brought a claim against the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which ran the Royal Hospital Haslar, but it denied any liability. In 2007, the High Court ruled that the medical treatment she received had been negligent.

The MoD appealed against the decision, arguing that negligent medical treatment was not the cause of Mrs East’s injuries. In July 2008, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, finding that medical mistakes were to blame for her condition.

A settlement of £3.45 million has now been approved, which will enable Mrs East’s family to adapt a property to meet her needs, as well as provide her with the therapy and care she requires.

The Royal Hospital Haslar closed in July 2009.

Prisoner Gets £4.7 Million Award

A prisoner who fell from his bunk bed and suffered permanent brain damage has won £4.7 million in damages.

Ryan St George was in Brixton prison serving a four-month sentence for theft. The authorities were aware that he was an intravenous heroin user and was prone to seizures, yet he was moved from a lower bunk to an upper one.

The accident happened when he suffered a fit and fell from the top bunk onto a concrete floor, hitting his head, and then had an epileptic fit that lasted for one and a half hours.

The High Court found that prison staff had failed to provide Mr St George with the required level of care. There was a delay in calling the ambulance and, when it did arrive, it was held up because the prison gates wouldn’t open.

When the ambulance crew was finally able to reach Mr St George, there was no member of the prison staff with him so paramedics had to rely on other inmates for information. There had been a failure to maintain Mr St George’s airway and to administer oxygen to him. As a result, he suffered damage to his brain.

In the High Court, Mr Justice Mackay found that Mr St George’s choice of lifestyle had contributed to the condition that caused his fall and he was therefore 15 per cent to blame for the accident. On appeal, however, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Home Office was 100 per cent liable for his injuries.

A £4.7 million compensation package was agreed, which comprises a lump sum and, unusually, annual periodical payments to pay the rent on a new home for Mr St George.

Human rights are not lost simply because a person is in jail and the Home Office has a responsibility to take reasonable care of prisoners who are physically or mentally ill.

Settlement for Blood Poisoning Tragedy

The family of a Staffordshire woman who died after a GP failed to diagnose that she had blood poisoning has received an out-of-court settlement.

Josephine Brindley, a 36-year-old mother of two, visited her doctor shortly after injuring her shoulder in an accident at work. She later started to feel unwell and over the next few days her condition worsened. She attended an out-of-hours GP clinic at Cannock Hospital, where she complained of extreme nausea and that the painkillers she was taking were not working. The locum GP diagnosed a reaction to the painkillers and prescribed different ones.

The next day, however, Mrs Brindley’s condition continued to worsen. Her husband took her to Mid-Staffordshire General Hospital, but the hospital staff were unable to save her and she died of septic shock.

The family brought a personal injury claim against the South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust, alleging that there had been a failure of patient care. If the blood poisoning had been diagnosed earlier, treatment with antibiotics would probably have saved Mrs Brindley’s life.

The Trust did not admit liability for the accident but agreed to pay an undisclosed sum in settlement of the claim, part of which is for Mrs Brindley’s two children.

Woman Wins Damages for Pavement Injury

The Court of Appeal has upheld the compensation award of a woman who injured her ankle when she tripped on a footpath outside her home.

Louise Bell, 49, brought a claim for compensation against the London Borough of Havering. She told the County Court that she had tripped on a four-inch depression in the pavement where a tree had been removed. As a result of the accident, she broke her ankle and required surgery to insert, and later remove, metal plates and screws. She was absent from work for six months.

Havering Council had initially admitted liability for the accident. Later, however, it withdrew the admission and sought to persuade the Court that Ms Bell was responsible for her injuries. Amongst other things, it argued that she had actually tripped over her dog and fallen down stairs at her home. However, the judge accepted Ms Bell’s version of events, which was supported by witness evidence, and decided that the Council bore two thirds of the liability for her injuries.

The Council appealed against this decision but the Appeal Court judge saw no reason to overturn the judgment and ruled that Ms Bell should receive damages as directed by the lower court. The exact amount of the compensation award will be decided at a future hearing, but it is thought that it will be a substantial sum.


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