Slip On Wet Floor Causes Long-Term Complications
The Law Of… ensuring accident victims receive fair compensation
Many of us will have suffered a slip, trip, or fall in our lives, with the most significant consequence surmounting to a bruised ego and some embarrassment at falling over. As one of our clients found out though, the consequences of a slip or trip are not always so short lived and an injury from a fall can require long-term rehabilitation.
Jonathan Thursby – Solicitor on Simpson Millar's Personal Injury team – explains a recent case of his, which saw him secure a settlement for a woman who slipped on a wet floor without a wet floor sign, fracturing her hip and requiring significant surgery.
Our client was out celebrating with friends when she went to use the toilets. Upon leaving the toilets she slipped on on a wet floor outside of the toilets – there was no wet floor sign warning of the danger.
Initially our client just felt some minor embarrassment at falling over, but as she tried to stand up she was struck by pain and suspected that she may have suffered a soft tissue injury.
The pain was so severe that she could not get back up without assistance. She hoped that the pain would improve of its own accord, however, by the next day the pain had not resolved.
An ambulance was called and our client was taken to Accident & Emergency, where she underwent an X-Ray. The X-Ray showed that she had fractured the neck of her left femur. She required urgent surgery to bolt her hip ball back onto her femur – a procedure that required a long recovery period that saw our client use crutches for 12 weeks.
Rehabilitation & Loss Of Amenity
For the first six weeks after her operation our client was not able to put any weight onto her left leg, even for balance, which resulted in her partner having to provide personal care – he had to arrange a flexible working pattern with his employer so that he could perform chores around the house and had to help our client shower and dress.
After six weeks she was able to touch her left foot to the ground for balance but was still unable to put weight on the injured side of her body, meaning she still required care and assistance from her partner.
It was only 13 weeks after her surgery that our client could begin to perform basic tasks around the house, this was because as she could weight bear on her left side and only required the use of one crutch.
It took a further four weeks of painful and awkward walking with a single crutch before she could walk unaided, however this was still painful and the time spent leaning over and using one crutch had aggravated a pain in her back that she suffered in a previous accident.
Six months after the accident she had a check-up with her consultant, who was happy with her recovery; at this time she did not feel daily pain but did suffer from some stiffness in her left leg.
As the accident had aggravated pain in her back, our client began chiropractic treatment to help relief the pain and return some mobility – she continues to visit the chiropractor to ensure that her back pain does not return.
Due to the significant loss of mobility caused by fracturing her hip, the accident caused a sizeable loss of amenity to someone who was extremely active before her slip.
Prior to the accident our client regularly went horse riding, played rounders, and enjoyed caring for her pets – all of these activities were affected by the accident to varying degrees and even today, four years after the incident, she is unable to go horse riding as frequently – or to the same degree of exertion – as before the accident.
Admitting Liability & Settlement
Through recent check-ups with a consultant it became clear that the effects of the accident have still not been fully realised, as it is expected that our client will require a full hip replacement within 10 years, with further revision surgery in 20 years.
This news, on top of the significant effect the accident has already had on our client's life, highlights the serious consequences that can occur after what can seem like an innocuous slip or trip.
Most frustrating is the fact that these types of accidents are so easily avoided if clear health and safety guidelines are followed, namely if spills are cleaned quickly and wet floor signs are used when liquid is on the floor.
As Jonathan explained, it was the restaurant's failure to follow these steps that forced them to admit liability and agree a settlement figure to compensate our client for her significant pain and suffering:
"In this case our client initially thought that she had just suffered a case of embarrassment and a minor soft tissue injury, however the full extent of her injury and the long-term rehabilitation shows how important it is for businesses to follow basic health and safety guidelines."
"The continued suffering and lost amenity faced by our client could have been avoided so easily and it was only right that the restaurant admitted liability and accepted blame for this accident."
"We were able to provide support for our client in this instance by referring her to medical experts who were able to diagnose her injury and give an outline for how long her rehabilitation would take – we then referred to these expert reports to agree a fair settlement that ensured that our client's past and future loss and suffering was correctly compensated."