Personal Injury

Manufacturing business agrees £55,000 damages settlement with worker who ruptured knee tendon in fall

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6 min read time

A painter and decorator who was not given a set of stepladders and was instead using an upturned plastic crate to reach high areas has been awarded £55,000 damages after falling and rupturing a tendon in his knee.

The 27-year-old was working as a painter and decorator on a production line at Hull-based bathroom pod manufacturer Walker Modular, in Amsterdam Road, when the accident at work happened.

In his role the worker was tasked with painting bathroom pods as they passed along a busy production line, standing on the upturned crate to reach higher areas.

On the day of his accident in August 2021, he felt the box wobble under his feet, and when attempting to step off lost his balance and fell, experiencing sudden and severe pain in his left knee.

He was helped up by colleagues and a manager drove him to Hull Royal Infirmary, where an x-ray identified a rupture to his patellar tendon, which required surgical repair.

After surgery he needed to wear a brace and use crutches for more than two months, lived downstairs at home for more than three months and was not able to drive his manual car for almost four months.

He was off work for six months before returning, firstly doing paperwork before then painting at waist height on the production line in the firm’s Marfleet Lane factory.

However, he found he was still struggling from his injury and therefore resigned having found a more suitable role at a different employer. He now works in a customer service role.

‘A few of us had raised the issue with managers’

“The accident had a big impact because at the time I was engaged to my partner, we’d booked a wedding, and we had a young child who we had to get to and from school,” said the worker.

“Financially it was tough as we only had one income coming in, and we had a lot of outgoings that we were already committed to. It was tough because my partner was working, I couldn’t drive, and we had to rely on my mum to run around for us in terms of taking our child to school and food shopping.

“The accident was quite frustrating because a few of us had raised the issue of the unsuitable access equipment on a number of occasions with managers and we were promised the equipment but it never happened. We used these crates all the time and I guess it was only a matter of time before someone fell.

“When I returned after my injury people had been issued with proper locking platforms and step-ladders, but it was obviously a little late for me.”

Legal claim led to admissions of breach of duty

A claim for accident at work compensation was led on behalf of the man by specialists Hudgell Solicitors, alleging Walker Modular had breached workplace health, safety and welfare regulations by failing to provide a safe way of working, and by using a makeshift platform which did not have appropriate grips on its top surface or feet, thereby exposing their employee to ‘a foreseeable risk of injury’.

As part of the legal case, personal injury claims specialist Samantha Thompson instructed an independent Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon to assess the injury.

He said the man had suffered strength and muscle wasting, and that sensitivity across the scar in front of his knee, which left him unable to kneel, would likely be a permanent issue, impacting on his career as a painter and decorator.

Mrs Thompson said: “Whenever an employee is being asked to work off the ground, no matter what height, suitable measures need to be taken to ensure that method of working is as safe as possible.

“Obviously, using a plastic crate as a makeshift platform, which does not have sufficient strength and grips, is not suitable.

“We see many cases in manufacturing businesses, especially on busy production lines, where corners are cut and the focus is simply on getting the job done as quickly as possible. The focus must always be on doing the job safely, and in line with laws and regulations.

“It is all too easy to be dismissive when people are only stepping up a small height, as in this case, but falls of just a foot or two can cause serious injuries, such as tendon ruptures, which can be very painful, but also have a long-term impact on those who suffer them.

“The duty is always on the employer to ensure their staff are working in the safest possible circumstances and situations, and obviously, this was not the case here.

“Our client was initially offered a settlement of £35,000, but after negotiation with his employer’s legal representatives, and after we had calculated the losses he had suffered as a result of his injury, we were able to agree a final figure which was £20,000 higher.”

Settlement has improved financial situation

The worker said he was delighted with the final £55,000 settlement, which he has used to clear off some debts which had mounted during his time unable to work, and to buy a new family car. He also intends to use some of the remaining damages as deposit on a house for his family.

“I was delighted with the settlement. I didn’t want to be greedy but Hudgells advised me well and I got quite a bit more than initially offered. Having had to struggle and claim Universal Credit when I was unable to work, we stacked up a bit of credit card debt, which we’ve now been able to pay off.

“Now when my monthly pay packet comes in it goes a lot further for us as a family and that will make a huge difference given the current living costs. Hudgells did a great job for me.”

What Are Accidents at Work?

An accident or injury in the workplace could be anything where you’ve suffered physically at work. You may have fallen or slipped in an office, suffered an injury from falling debris on a worksite, or sustained a back injury at work through manual handling that could have been avoided.

Whether you’ve had a major or minor accident at work, claiming compensation for a work-related injury can help you get your life back on track by reimbursing you for lost earnings and expenses because of your injury.

Read more: Accidents & Injury at Work Compensation Claims

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