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October 27th 2021

Accidents at Work

£67,000 damages for cake decorator who shattered kneecap after slipping on a tomato in accident at work

Becci Bilby

Becci Bilby

Legal Executive, Personal Injury

£67,000 damages for cake decorator who shattered kneecap after slipping on a tomato in accident at work

A 61-year-old cake decorator has received £67,000 in personal injury compensation after suffering a shattered kneecap when slipping on a tomato in an accident at work.

A 61-year-old cake decorator has received £67,000 in personal injury compensation after suffering a shattered kneecap when slipping on a tomato in an accident at work.

The woman, who works for a food manufacturing company in Yorkshire, was walking from the staff canteen to the smoking hut at around 8am when she slipped on a piece of tin tomato that was on the floor in the tiled corridor.

As a result, she crashed to the floor and sustained a serious injury to her right knee and was taken to hospital.

The company has a policy that no food or open-topped drinks should be taken out of the canteen, but one of her colleagues breached this policy.

“I didn’t know what I’d slipped on until the first aider spotted the tomato because it was on the base of my shoe and along the corridor on the tiles,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

“Somebody had taken a sandwich out which you’re not allowed to do, it was like a breakfast in a bap style thing and they spilled some tin tomato out onto the floor and carried on.

“Unfortunately, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I didn’t see it and that is what took me down.”

Woman injured at work describes ‘horrific flip’ and ‘skidding like a cartoon character’

She added: “I had a bottle of water in my hand which I had bought from the canteen and all of a sudden I went into the most horrific flip and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.

“The way I see it in my brain, it was like those characters you see in a cartoon when they skid or slip and can’t get out of it, that’s what I was like.

“I crashed down onto a wooden bar separating parts of the floor and my right knee went completely bang on there and I flew forward.

“I was sprawled in this corridor on my stomach and I turned over onto my back – all I wanted to do was jump up and go ‘dah dah, I’m fine’ because you’re embarrassed about falling.

“But as I brought my knee up to rub it, I saw the top half of my kneecap coming towards me and I knew I had done a lot of damage – I was in so much pain, I was petrified.”

Workplace accident leaves client off work for 15 months

The woman was taken to hospital where she was diagnosed with a shattered right kneecap and two days later she had surgery on a fragmented fracture of the right patella, which required open reduction and internal fixation.

Her leg was in a brace for 14 weeks and the implants were removed 10 months later. In total, she was off work for 15 months.

Our client underwent regular physiotherapy, but continues to have pain, with a medical expert in her case noting she still has “moderately intrusive symptoms which are at best permanent” three years on.

“I was determined not to rely on crutches, sticks or Zimmer frames. I was trying to keep moving and doing as much as I could and my daughter, who had a full-time job, was just marvellous with the help she provided throughout,” said the woman, who has also been suffering with lower back pain since the accident at work.

“It’s been three years and there is still pain every day, but it is manageable. Sometimes it still flares up which it did a couple of months ago and I was off work for three days, but that’s not every day.”

Accident at work claim made against her employer

The woman instructed Hudgell Solicitors to make an accident at work claim and Becci Bilby, Legal Executive in our Personal Injury team, guided her through the case.

The legal case alleged that the food company had breached its duty of care “to ensure that she is safe during the course of her employment” under the requirements of the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992.

We also claimed the workplace accident was caused or contributed to by negligence of the company and its employee.

The woman’s employer admitted full liability for the incident and Mrs Bilby successfully secured £67,000 in work injury compensation for her client.

Will I get the sack if I make an accident at work claim?

“I was really nervous about making a claim,” said the woman. “I was thinking ‘what if I get the sack, what if this happens or that happens, what if the solicitors aren’t very nice as I don’t want somebody forcing things on me’ – everything went through my brain.

“But then I met Becci and we had a lovely chat and I warmed to her straight away. She made the whole experience really easy and took everything off my shoulders.

“I felt at ease with her and felt that if my work caused me any problems, which they haven’t, then I could always ring Becci and ask what to do.

“I cannot recommend Hudgells enough. A couple of people have said to me they’ve had an accident at work and suffered work-related injuries and I’ve said ‘go straight to Hudgells’.”

Commenting on the case, Mrs Bilby said: “We get a lot of clients who come to us worried asking ‘Can I be sacked for having an accident at work?’

“When people come to us after being injured at work we advise and reassure them as employees have employment protection rights depending how long they have worked for a company.

“If people are unsure then the best thing to do is speak to our legal experts about their case.”

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