Employer Liability – accident at work/vicarious liability
3 August 2017
Compensation of £38,000 awarded to 60 year old woman for injury to her hip, neck and back as a result of a fall whilst carrying out her duties at work.
The Claimant was aged 56 at the time of the accident and was a keen walker prior to her accident.
The Claimant was carrying out her duties as a Treader at a Racecourse. During the course of her duties, the Claimant and a number of her colleagues were collected from the racecourse in a trailer, which was attached to the back of a tractor, to be transported to the main building for a scheduled break.
The Driver of the tractor, a colleague of the Claimant, permitted a number of colleagues to enter the cab of the tractor to travel back to the main building. One of the colleagues inadvertently operated a lever within the cab of the tractor, which caused the trailer to tip, spilling all occupants, including the Claimant, from height onto the road below.
A colleague of the Claimant landed on top of her as she fell and the Claimant sustained injuries.
The Claimant’s injury to her lower back and neck resolved within a 6 month period, however the Claimant continued to suffer from pain and restricted movement in her hip.
The Claimant’s accident accelerated the onset of pain, discomfort and restricted movement of her hip, from osteoarthritis, by a period of 2.5 to 3years. This in turn led to the Claimant’s need for a hip replacement approximately 3 ½ years earlier than would have been necessary if the accident had not occurred. The Claimant was left with significant scarring as a result of the surgery.
As a result of the accident the Claimant’s sleep was disturbed and she suffered from depression. The Claimant’s injury prevented her from walking distances and she was unable to sit or to stand for long periods of time. As a result she was therefore unable to return to her old job, and she was restricted in the type of work she could do.
Although liability was admitted, the Defendant disputed the extent of the Claimant’s injuries. The Defendant also contested the value of the claim on the basis that the Claimant would have required a hip replacement at a date in the future anyway because of her osteoarthritis, and therefore would have been left with significant scarring at that point.
The Claimant’s symptoms deteriorated over time following her accident, resulting in a hip replacement. Following her accident and subsequent surgery the Claimant required an extensive period of personal care, and assistance around her home, from family and friends.
The Claimant’s employer was liable for the actions of the Claimant’s colleagues.
The Claimant’s employer failed to provide the Claimant with adequate and suitable transport to and from the racecourse.
It was necessary to commence court action to ensure that the employer’s insurers properly compensated the Claimant. Before the case reached court a settlement of £38,000. This figure included compensation of £20,000 for the Claimant’s injuries with the remaining £18,000 of the compensation award consisting of loss of earnings of £5000, compensation for care and assistance provided by relatives and for increased difficulty in finding work.