Will an Existing Injury Harm My Chances of a Personal Injury Claim?


Being injured at work can be a life-changing event. Knowing how you're going to support yourself and your family can make the circumstances even harder to bear.

This is exactly what happened to a forklift driver who came to us to claim compensation for his workplace injury.

Accident at work

Injured at Work?

The man in question worked for the Royal Mail Group as a forklift driver. His job role was to move cages into the rear of a trailer using a forklift truck. He had noticed that some straps within the trailer were left in the wrong position, so he got down off his forklift to adjust them. As he was moving the straps down the runner towards the rear of the vehicle the strap became jammed and he suffered an injury to his wrist.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 646,000 individuals had an accident at work in 2012/13. Simpson Millar LLP has recently attempted to raise awareness of hazards in the workplace, highlighting what your employer can do to prevent accidents from happening in the future.

Despite employing just 0.7% of the UK population, close to 10% of the entire UK musculoskeletal injuries are the responsibility of Royal Mail each year according to the Communication Workers Union (CWU). A musculoskeletal injury is damage that occurs to the joints or other tissues in the upper/ lower limbs or the back. To try and limit the number of accidents in the Royal Mail, the CWU published a safety guide titled "Lighten the Load", which details maximum load weights, safety checks and advice, together with many more tips and recommendations. You can download a copy from the CWU website.

These types of injuries are common when working in any job that involves manual handling but we have seen many as a result of roles within the Royal Mail Group.

Existing Injuries Shouldn't Stop a Claim

In this case, the injury to the driver's wrist exacerbated an existing injury to the same wrist, requiring the man to undergo surgery. You may be concerned that a previous injury could stop you receiving any compensation, as your employer may say it was pre-existing. This is not the case, if that injury has healed fully, or its recovery was set back by the accident, then you are entitled to make a claim.

Previous injuries should not hinder you from claiming compensation, as will be confirmed by any expert.

Gary Tierney, partner at Simpson Millar LLP, who conducted the case, said cases like this show that "the employer must provide its employees suitable and safe equipment at all time as failure to do so can cause injury". Despite his previous wrist injury, the forklift driver was awarded £15,000 in compensation from his employer whilst his case was partly funded by his trade union, the CWU.

If you are part of a trade union, and you have been involved in an accident at work, they may be able to financially assist you in making a claim.

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