Train Station Trip Causes Permanent Scarring & Soft Tissue Injuries
The Law Of… claiming compensation for trips
Trips, slips and falls can be fairly innocuous in nature, with many of us dusting ourselves down and continuing with our day after stumbling in public; however, this is not always the outcome and there are instances where other obstructions can cause a significant injury that can have long-term consequences.
Outlining one of his recent cases, Jonathan Thursby – Solicitor on Simpson Millar's Personal Injury team – explains how a client came into serious harm after tripping at a train station and hitting his head on a sign that was placed at an unsafe height.
Injury Affects Ability To Work
Our client, who is employed as a Detention Officer, was walking through Slough train station when he tripped and hit his head on the sharp edge of a sign, which was positioned lower than head height.
The force of impact caused our client to fall to floor, where he was left feeling disorientated, shocked and slightly embarrassed.
His head immediately began to bleed and he had to seek first aid assistance from a trained member of staff in a nearby store, who confirmed that he had suffered three cuts to his face, one to his forehead, one near his nose and another over his chin.
Luckily, the accident took place on a day when our client was not due in to work, so after being cleaned up, he was able to go home and rest.
The following day the full extent of the injuries sustained by the accident became clearer, as our client reported excruciating pain and stiffness in his neck, as well as suffering from an unrelenting headache.
Seeking Medical Expertise
Despite our client's accident happening very quickly, his injuries were long-term and caused significant pain, suffering, and loss of amenity.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, our client had an appointment with his GP to request a tetanus booster due to the risk of infection to the cuts on his face.
Four weeks after the incident, the cuts had healed but they left visible scars, one of which remains almost four years after the accident and appears to be permanent.
As the pain in his neck was not getting any better, our client was referred to a physiotherapist and attended sessions that included massage, acupuncture, and the use of a deep heat machine. This course of treatment offered some respite from the pain but a dull ache or severe shooting sensation would always return to the affected area.
Over a year and a half after the incident our client's neck pain was still flaring up and he was prescribed with some strong pain killers to try and tackle the symptoms of his injury.
It was only when our client sought the opinion of Medicolegal experts, which was arranged by Jonathan, was the true extent of the injury revealed. A Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon confirmed that the accident had accelerated the degeneration of our client's neck by three years and noted that the incident had placed our client at a disadvantage on the open labour market, as roles involving heavy lifting, carrying, or long periods of sitting could be difficult for our client.
Since the accident our client has had to live with the daily effects of debilitating pain and has reported struggling to sleep and has been unable to perform daily tasks that would have been easy before the accident, namely work around the house and leisure activities such as sports and exercise.
Failure To Ensure Visitor Was Reasonably Safe
Taking on the case, Jonathan sought to establish liability under the Occupiers' Liability Act 1957, which outlines an occupier's responsibility to ensure that those who are on their premises legally remain safe and free from harm at all times.
Due to the low placement of the sign, Jonathan was successful in arguing that it was a foreseeable risk that an injury to a visitor could occur and that the occupier of Slough station had failed to ensure that our client was reasonably safe while he was a legal visitor to their premises.
The railway operator admitted liability and a settlement amount that accounted for our clients loss, suffering, and damages was agreed.
Discussing the case, Jonathan said:
"This case goes to show how a simple trip or fall can have serious consequences and while many of us may be able to continue with our day after tripping in public some people are not so lucky."
"Our client suffered long-term neck pain due to the negligence of the railway station operator and with the quite ridiculous low position of the metal sign it was surprising that someone didn't get hurt before."
"Ultimately, this was a wholly avoidable incident caused by a safety failing that should have been spotted and fixed by the occupier of the train station."
"I am glad that we were able to establish liability in this case and agree a settlement figure that compensated our client for the significant and long-term loss of amenity caused by his injuries."