- January 18, 2016
- By Sana Bibi
- 0 comments
Claiming for a second accident caused by the first
I recently settled an injury claim for one of my clients who had the misfortune to be injured in a second accident which occurred as a result of her first accident.
At the time of her first accident, the building in which my client and her family lived and the surrounding area were under extensive redevelopment. A temporary footpath had been constructed by the contractors on site and, one evening as my client returned home from work she slipped, sustaining serious injury to her lower limb. Despite previous complaints by other residents and my client’s husband, the temporary footpath remained wet, slippery and unlit. There were no alternative safe routes that my client could have taken from the car park. The usual footpath was closed.
My client was extremely traumatised by the incident. She found herself lying in the dark in pain, unable to move or call for assistance for a long time as her handbag containing her mobile phone had fallen some distance away from her. Eventually she was able to grab the strap of her handbag, get to her phone and call her husband for help. She had to be carried into their car and taken to hospital for urgent medical treatment. My client suffered fractures to her leg and knee and required surgery. This created mobility issues and she found it difficult to walk properly and required a walking stick.
The client instructed me to bring a claim on her behalf. The claim against the construction company was that they had failed to ensure the premises, namely the footpath, were safe for lawful visitors. Unfortunately before a letter of claim could be sent to the construction company, my client had another accident at a different location. She had been out walking, using her stick when she slipped due to the instability of her injured leg, resulting in fractures of her right arm and wrist. My client’s disability was compounded by this further accident and she relied on her husband for a significant level of care and assistance.
I sent a letter of claim and after initial investigations, the construction company’s insurers admitted liability for the first accident but alleged my client was also partly to blame and should accept a reduction in her compensation. Understandably, my client was very upset by this allegation of “contributory negligence”. There was nothing she could have done to have avoided the accident and so she strongly refuted this allegation.
As for the second accident, the insurers were not at first convinced that instability in my client’s injured leg had caused the fall. I therefore obtained a witness evidence from a local resident who had seen the fall. I also obtained confirmation from a medical expert that there would have been instability and weakness in the injured leg and that was probably the cause of the second fall.
I obtained an expert report from an orthopaedic consultant and then another report from a rheumatologist, as my client continued to experience symptoms especially in her leg even though the fractures had united. Physiotherapy had failed to improve her condition. The expert rheumatologist recommended that my client have a variety of pain-relieving injections for the symptoms and advised that there was a 50% chance that she would require a total knee replacement as a result of the accident.
After some negotiation, the insurers settled the claim for both accidents for a five figure sum without any reduction for contributory negligence.
Claiming for injuries sustained in a second separate accident as a consequence of vulnerability and weakness arising from the first accident from the party responsible for the first accident is far from straightforward, but by no means impossible. Injured people can succeed if they prove that they would not have been involved in the second accident, had it not been for the first accident. They would need to show that by supportive medical evidence and also establish the second accident had not been caused by the negligence of someone else third party or for some other reason.