Accidents at Work: Who is Responsible for this Container Depot Injury?


A 57 year-old Chertsey man whose injuries following an accident at work left him with permanent physical and psychological disabilities has won a substantial damages claim against his employer and an associate firm.

Shoulder Injuries

Because of the accident, which occurred on 13 July 2009 at a container depot, the man sustained injuries to his right leg, left shoulder and the left-hand side of his chest.

Fallen Door

The injury to the man's right leg happened because of a door falling from a container, from which the worker had been instructed to clear debris prior to the unit's return to its supplier.

As the worker fell from the container his left shoulder and chest hit the ground, causing additional injury.

He received first aid at the scene, after which he was taken to his local A&E for treatment. He was eventually discharged with pain killers, but without having been examined by X-rays.

Condition Deteriorated

As the worker's condition deteriorated, he continued to experience severe pain and discomfort. Referred by his GP back to the hospital for further investigation, the man was diagnosed with a severe soft tissue injury.

For 17 weeks he was unable to work and suffered significant pain and discomfort, particularly in his left shoulder. On his eventual return, his reduced mobility and continued need for assistance confined him to light duties.

Continual Shoulder Problems

"The most significant injury sustained by our client was to his left shoulder," Emma Roberts of Simpson Millar LLP said. "He continues to have difficulty in lifting, especially if the activity is overhead."

In due course, medical evidence confirmed that the man had suffered a massive rotator cuff tear as a result of the accident. Continuing to experience severe pain, discomfort and lack of mobility, in February 2011 he was referred to a specialist at Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospital, later undergoing surgery.

Irreparable Tendon Damage

"During the procedure it was noted that the tear of the tendon was irreparable," Emma said. "Our client's functional status aligns with a diagnosis of chronic rotator cuff tear, and he remains symptomatic."

"It's believed that as a result of the accident at work, our client has been left with an estimated disability of 20% to 30% of shoulder function, which will remain permanently and is likely to deteriorate, leading to further abnormal function and degenerative changes."

It is expected that the man will eventually develop rotator cuff arthropathy, a condition which may need further surgical intervention.

Psychological Problems

Emma added that the prospect of this condition developing is around 50% within 5 to 10 years. "Our client has also developed a psychological reaction, in the form of anxiety and depression, to the accident and because of the effects of his subsequent disability."

Primary liability was quickly admitted for the accident and Simpson Millar LLP obtained an early interim payment for loss of earnings. Although the case was complicated by a disagreement between 2 of the defendants over financial liability, we pressed home the case on behalf of our client, who was awarded £65,000 in damages.

Top Tips to Take Away:

  • If you're injured at work through no fault of your own, it's important to seek the advice of an expert in personal injury
  • Could there be more than 1 defendant? Only the skills of a specialist adviser will be able to tell you – and pursue a satisfactory claim on your behalf

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