Hudgell Solicitors secured a £225,000 damages settlement for a man who has been unable to return to work after suffering a neck injury whilst carrying out his job.
The man, who has asked not to be named, worked as a truck driver for a business providing food products to retailers throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe.
He suffered the injuries when making his final delivery of the day, as items in the truck had become loose and fell, hitting him on the head. He suffered a cut to the forehead and muscular type pain to his neck.
There had not been a system in place to hold the products securely in the trailer.
Legal expertise saw £5,000 compensation offer rise to £225,000
Insurers on behalf of the company initially only offered a personal injury damages settlement of £5,000 after a legal claim was made on his behalf by specialists Hudgell Solicitors.
However, solicitor Nick Stojanovic, a Senior Litigator with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), described the offer as ‘derogatory’ given the long-term impact on the employee’s health and psychological state – something supported by independent medical examinations carried out.
“The defendants argued this case to death and originally offered our client a derogatory settlement of £5,000 in damages, claiming his injury and ongoing symptoms could not be possible,” said Mr Stojanovic.
“He suffered neck and back pain immediately after the accident, was signed off sick and such was the impact of the incident and injuries, he never returned to work.
“His neck pain has never improved to this day, despite having had physio, used a tens machine, and had specialised chronic pain treatment. He was also diagnosed as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”
Employers failed to provide safe place of work and fully consider risks
As part of the legal case it was claimed the company involved had failed to operate and provide a safe place of work, in that the equipment being used was not fit for purpose and that they had failed to fully assess and train staff for such situations given the risk involved.
It was claimed that its failure to take the appropriate steps had exposed the worker to ‘a foreseeable risk of injury’.
The case took about 18 months before an admission was secured, but did result in changes in working practices at the company to prevent such an injury happening to an employee again, with strapping now used to hold contents securely.
The victim has been unable to return to employment, and Mr Stojanovic says the end result justified his determination to continue pressing for the best result, despite initial arguments against the claim and the low initial offer.
“We have a responsibility to hold organisations to account when they have been responsible for causing injury, and in this case the £5,000 offer would have been a huge under-settlement for my client given the impact it has had on his life,” added Mr Stojanovic.
“I was aware of the condition he’d been left in and pressed forward with the case despite the difficulties.
“When he was assessed by independent experts, they confirmed that he was suffering from chronic pain syndrome, PTSD and depression.
“We had to litigate the case and it was certainly satisfying to see an offer of £225,000 made in reflection of his suffering, and his past and future lost earnings as a result of this injury.
“It will give our client the financial security needed, and also importantly has led to changes in practice at the business involved to prevent similar injuries happening to employees in the future.”