Pre-Existing Conditions Shouldn't Stop Your Claim


At work, helping customers when they have queries and going the extra mile is often expected of you. So what happens when you are injured in the course of helping another customer?

Injuries at work aren't your fault because you have pre-existing conditions

Injured By a Faulty Machine

A post office worker in Cardiff had been employed by Royal Mail for 14 years. In that time, she had only been in charge of the 'Post & Go' machines at her local post office for 18 months before her accident.

On a late morning shift, she noticed that one of the Post & Go machines was not working properly for a customer. She went over to help and realised that the labels were not being printed, so opened the machine to look inside. Post & Go machines were introduced to reduce waiting times in Royal Mail branches; to enable customers to effectively label and send their own letters, parcels and packages.

When she opened the front of the machine to change the roll of labels, the door fell downwards and hit her on the head. The customer she was assisting tried to catch the door to prevent it from hitting her and as a result cut her finger.

The worker immediately felt pain on the left side of her face. The pain was particularly intense because she suffered from a condition called trigeminal neuralgia.

Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition that causes severe facial pain that can come on suddenly and is described as being sharp and shooting across the face. The disorder can go into remission, but in circumstances like this, a sharp blow to the head can bring it back to the surface.

Fortunately, she did not fall over or lose consciousness when the machine door struck her and she was escorted into the tearoom to get first aid assistance. The acting manager at the time seemed to have no regard for the worker's injuries, which she found quite dismissive. She was told that due to staff shortages, she would have to make the trip to the hospital by herself. The post office worker arranged for her husband to go with her to Heath Hospital in Cardiff to get the necessary medical attention for her wound.

No Warnings Given About the Machine

From that point on, she continued to suffer pain along with severe headaches, prolonged due to her pre-existing condition. She was off work for 5 weeks following the accident and had to increase her medication for trigeminal neuralgia due to the pain she was experiencing.

Being struck by the Post & Go machine was not an isolated incident. Another colleague a few days before had suffered a similar accident with the very same machine but the worker had not been made aware of this until after she had already suffered her own injury. The machine was still being used within the branch even after the accident.

Jill Saggers who acted for the worker said that highlighting this type of case showed that a pre-existing condition should not prevent you from making a claim if you were injured at work. If an accident exacerbates or aggravates a condition you already had, there should be no reduction in the amount of compensation you receive, especially if that condition was in remission.

The case was settled and our client accepted £2000 in compensation.

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