Client: Paul (name changed), a 41-year old factory labourer
Claim: Factory accident compensation claim for personal injuries and other losses
Claimant’s Lawyer: Kevin Donoghue, solicitor
Outcome: £2,750 compensation plus legal costs
Paul worked in a factory in Liverpool as a general labourer.
He was injured in an accident at work while clearing debris in the factory yard. There was a large advertising hoarding on the ground which had to be moved. Paul lifted it up with a colleague’s help. As he moved forward he fell into an uncovered manhole shaft which was hidden beneath the hoarding. He caught his right shin on the edge of the shaft, ripping his thick overalls and cutting into the skin and muscle.
Paul was rushed to a nearby hospital in Liverpool, where he was treated for the deep cut to the right shin. Later, his GP prescribed antibiotics. Paul was left with a scar and slight indentation where his shin caught the manhole shaft. He did not take any time off work despite his injuries.
Instructing a Factory Accident Compensation Claim Solicitor
Paul asked Kevin Donoghue, solicitor, to investigate whether he could bring a factory accident compensation claim against his employers.
Kevin considered the legal aspects of Paul’s claim with him. Paul told Kevin that his employers:
- failed to make sure that the manhole cover was in place,
- did not tell him that the manhole cover was missing, and
- placed the advertising hoarding over the open manhole, making it impossible to see.
In Mr Donoghue’s expert opinion, Paul described an unsafe system of work. If proven, it meant that Paul’s employers were responsible for his accident as they had breached their statutory duties and been negligent. Paul had suffered personal injury and other losses as a result. He was entitled to compensation if he could prove liability. Kevin agreed to represent Paul in his factory accident compensation claim under a “no win no fee” agreement.
How Donoghue Solicitors Progressed the Factory Accident Claim
Mr. Donoghue submitted details of Paul’s factory accident claim to the employers. He demanded disclosure of documents to find out how the factory operated and help Paul prove his claim.
The factory’s insurers did not respond in accordance with the Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims. Mr. Donoghue kept the pressure on by issuing court proceedings for pre-action disclosure of relevant documentation so that he could properly assess liability.
He obtained expert medical evidence and forwarded full details of Paul’s claim to the insurers. They failed to make any offers. Mr. Donoghue advised Paul that he would have to issue proceedings at court if he wanted to progress his claim further. Paul agreed.
Mr Donoghue drafted and served court proceedings on Paul’s employers and their insurers. They failed to respond again, so Kevin entered “judgment in default”. This meant that liability was no longer an issue and Paul’s employers were legally responsible for his accident. All that was left was for a judge to value Paul’s claim if the parties could not agree on the amount of compensation.
Entering judgment in default provoked the factory’s insurers into action. The insurers told Kevin that they would ask the court to set aside judgment in default and allow them to defend the proceedings. Paul’s employers could fight the case to trial if the court agreed. If they won at trial Paul would get nothing. The insurers also said they would argue that he caused or contributed to the accident. If this “contributory negligence” argument was successful it could result in Paul receiving less, or no, money, even if he won his compensation claim. Alternatively, they offered to settle Paul’s claim now for £1800 plus legal costs.
Mr. Donoghue told the insurers that, in his opinion, they had undervalued Paul’s claim. Despite this, he agreed to discuss the insurer’s comments and their offer with his client. Kevin said,
“I was confident that Paul would win his factory accident compensation claim even if judgment in default was set aside.
But I was worried that a judge might find contributory negligence given the accident circumstances. This would reduce Paul’s compensation and was something to bear in mind in negotiations.”
Compensation Claim Negotiations
Kevin discussed his concerns with Paul. With his client’s agreement, Mr. Donoghue counter-offered to settle at £3000.
The insurers increased their offer to £2500.
Kevin Donoghue recommended that Paul reject it and stand by his £3000 offer. He did.
The insurers responded by increasing their offer for a third time, to £2750.
Both Paul and Kevin felt that was a good settlement given the risks. Paul accepted the offer and was glad that he:
- was justified in bringing his accident at work claim,
- received fair compensation, and
- had instructed Donoghue Solicitors to help him claim compensation.