Post office worker awarded £100,000 after 2 knee injuries in 4 years
The case of a post office worker who suffered 2 separate yet similar accidents at work
has highlighted how employers must take care when considering the positions of claimants after work-related injuries.
Mr X, sustained an injury to his right knee in July 2003, re-injuring the same knee in April 2007. Supported by evidence from a manager witness, his Royal Mail employer stated that Mr X, then 59, could work on light duties full-time after the accident, with his position available until retirement age.
With supporting medical evidence, Mr X's first compensation claim of £20,000 was settled. However, in 2007 he injured the same knee for a second time. This led to Mr X undergoing a total knee replacement - a procedure he required anyway as a result of the first accident.
The medical evidence was that the claimant could still carry out his pre-accident duties with Royal Mail, even with the knee replacement.
Two weeks after the second accident, however, Mr X was referred to Atos Healthcare. The advisory body immediately raised the question of ill-health retirement, which the claimant did not want. Since this was the preferred approach of Royal Mail, Mr X was retired in September 2007.
During the second claim's proceedings, the witness asserted that, even if the 2007 accident had not occurred, the claimant would have been retired from Royal Mail due to ill-health (his knee replacement being the key factor) within 6-9 months anyway - a stark contrast to the same manager's evidence in the earlier case, which favoured Mr X continuing to work on light duties until 65.
In respect of the second claim, Royal Mail first offered £5,000. This they increased to £20,000, then £30,000, with a final offer of £37,500. With Mr X rejecting all offers, the case proceeded to an assessment of damages hearing in Slough County Court on 18 July 2011.
Here the Judge had to decide if the 2007 accident, the further injuries and the time off work gave cause for the claimant to be retired from Royal Mail on the grounds of ill-health.
The Judge accepted the manager's testimony from the first case and not the second, rejecting Royal Mail's argument that Mr X would have been retired in any event within 6-9 months - a condition supported neither by medical evidence nor by the evidence of the manager when Mr X made his first claim.
In light of the Judge's findings, Mr X was awarded full loss of earnings until his 65th birthday - a sum of £99,348 - together with £2,500 for his new injuries plus modest interest. His gross final settlement was £101,900.Gary Tierney, a Partner in the Wimbledon Personal Injury Team
of Simpson Millar LLP, acted for the Claimant. "This case shows how careful an employer needs to be when considering a claimant's employment position after an injury has been sustained in an accident," he commented.
"Employers also have to be aware of the implications of retiring someone on the grounds of ill-health if that person will struggle to get another job."