Burn Injury: More Haste Less Spills


A 44 year-old Sussex woman was awarded compensation from her local council employer after her face was severely burned by spilt hot coffee.

First aid box

Employed by the council since March 2009 as a school cleaner, the woman was carrying out her duties when one of the teachers emerged from the staffroom, in some haste, carrying a cup of hot coffee.


The teacher collided with our client, who was walking in the opposite direction.

Burns with Lasting Effects

The cleaner sustained liquid burns to her face, neck and chest, which has left her with discolouration and scarring.

All teaching staff had earlier been asked not to attend the school on the day of the accident, due to scheduling of a 'deep clean' of the premises. To further emphasise the need for teachers to stay away, numerous signs had been erected around the school.

School was to Blame

After instruction from the cleaner's union, the GMB, we wrote to the local authority. We alleged that the school were negligent, as the staff member had not acted safely or competently – having previously been asked to not attend. The school had also therefore not adequately supervised our client's working environment.


"The outcomes of the injury were acutely and personally embarrassing for our client," Simpson Millar LLP's Carley-Anne Hurley said. "Even now she has to keep the affected area, which has become very sensitive, out of direct sunlight."

Extra Help from Simpson Millar LLP

Following an award of £1,875 compensation to the cleaner, Carly added: "It is also worth noting that our client was uncomfortable about approaching her employers for time off to attend the medical examination she needed in pursuit of her claim. We were pleased to arrange an early appointment for her during a school holiday."

Top tips to take away:

  • If an individual at your workplace ignores an explicit instruction and you're injured because of this, you might be entitled to compensation
  • If you think you have a rightful claim, Simpson Millar LLP's personal injury team will be able to help you

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