Hospital Visit for Treatment to his Partner – and Himself?


A 66 year-old man has been awarded compensation following a mishap at a Bristol hospital café on 17 March 2011.

Accident Personal Injury Report

At around 1.50pm, following treatment for the man's partner at Emerson Green Hospital, the couple visited the onsite café, a Costa Coffee outlet, for refreshments.

Cluttered Counter Caused Difficulty

Ordering drinks, the man found no room for his tray on the counter, which was cluttered with merchandise and display boards promoting other items for sale.

"There was no rail on which he could place his tray, so he was forced to balance it on the edge of the counter, supporting it with his left hand," observed Simpson Millar LLP's Lisa Sheldon, who acted for the man. When the assistant passed across a cup of tea, he had to remove the cup's lid for milk while balancing the tray.

Severe Burns

Already in some difficulty, the man asked the assistant not to tighten the lid on the second cup. However, in passing the second cup, the assistant knocked it against one of the advertisement boards.

"The assistant was unable to avoid pouring boiling hot water over our client’s right hand and wrist, which were severely burned", Lisa commented.

No Treatment Offered – No Record Made

Lisa noted that no offer of treatment was made to the man, who quickly paid and visited the men's room to hold his hand under a cold tap. "He returned to the counter to ask for the incident to be recorded, but neither the assistant nor her manager claimed to know the whereabouts of the accidents log."

The man was then asked to attend the hospital reception, from where he was taken to a treatment room and his injuries were dressed.


We wrote to Costa Coffee alleging that the accident was caused as a result of its negligence. In failing to ensure our client was reasonably safe in using the premises, the firm had breached its duty of care and failed to warn the man about exposure to danger while he collected his drinks.

Our client was awarded £2,300 in personal injury compensation.

Top Tips to Take Away

  • An accident in a public place should always be recorded in the accident book, or log – this helps evidence the incident
  • Innocuous settings such as a café can provide dangerous situations due to negligence on their part

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