Compensation for accidents at work
Claims for compensation for accidents at work can be very difficult if the facts are disputed, but can still be won if the claimant’s evidence is credible and his lawyers are willing to pursue the matter.
I acted recently for a client who is a bus operator and was involved in a slipping accident in the bus garage where he worked. He was on his mid-morning break at the time and having visited the toilet, my client slipped as he stepped out onto a crossing which he said contained a spillage. He was alone and there were no witnesses. He landed on his back and suffered injuries as a result.
The bus company’s insurers denied liability, saying that there was no spillage. Another employee provided evidence to say that he attended shortly after the accident and saw no spillage. The insurers also said that my client was wearing incorrect footwear and that he was seen swishing his feet in water moments before. However, the insurers were not able to produce any documents to show that the bus company had a system of cleaning or maintenance.
My client maintained that a spillage was present, possibly from a bus which was parked up nearby. Furthermore he said that the footpath which he would usually use was obstructed at the time by a number of containers. My client had video evidence of the spillage taken on a mobile phone by a colleague, but the footage was grainy and the colleague was not contactable to provide a statement.
I started court proceedings on the basis that the insurers would not have sufficient evidence to persuade a court that my client was not telling the truth. He was a very credible witness and his recollection of events was clear. In addition, if it could be established that my client, on balance, slipped on something then the insurers would have little by way of defence given that no cleaning records existed.
We exchanged witness evidence. My client had no witnesses to support his version of events, but the insurers served statements from his manager and a number of other employees who attended the scene shortly after the accident, all claiming that there was no spillage. Moreover, the colleague who took the video footage and gave it to my client at the time of the accident denied all knowledge of events and gave a statement asserting that there was nothing the bus company could have done to prevent my client’s accident.
By this stage my client had moved away from the area and had joined another bus company. He was disappointed at the statements provided by his former colleagues but insisted that his recollection of events was accurate. The case was listed for trial.
Our medical expert advised that as a consequence of the accident my client sustained a back injury which had accelerated underlying degenerative changes by a period of time. Accident related expenses were modest but did include a claim for care and assistance provided by my client’s partner. I had made an optimistic offer to settle for £8,000.
Following a pre-trail meeting with our barrister, we decided that my client did indeed present as a credible witness but that the testimony provided by the other witnesses could not be ignored. I advised my client to settle the case if possible.
A week before trial the insurers’ solicitors made contact looking to agree a deal to split liability for the accident. Instead my client accepted my advice to make a counter offer of £5,000 in full and final settlement.
This was thought by the insurers’ solicitors to be roughly half of our earlier offer and was accepted. My client recovered £5,000 plus his legal costs in settlement of his claim and was delighted to have resolved the matter successfully.
At Anthony Gold we act for many clients who are involved in accidents at work. Some cases are more contentious than others. Where prospects of success are reasonable, we are experts in advising on how to win even the most difficult of cases.