Case Study: Retail Worker Awarded with £50,000 in Compensation for Back Injury

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Amy Baker

Graduate Solicitor Apprentice

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Matt had recently returned to his position behind the tills at a well-known clothing retailer, after overcoming a workplace accident which had exacerbated back pain  he had previously sustained in a motorcycle accident.

Whilst on shift, Matt ran out of paper carrier bags on his till and his manager went to the storeroom to collect a pallet full of these bags for him to replenish with. After collecting them, the manager then threw one of these packs at Matt, expecting him to catch it, but Matt was busy sorting out an issue with his till. The pack of paper bags hit Matt in the chest, as he had not seen them being thrown his way.

Matt tried to stop himself falling by reaching out his hand, but unfortunately his body twisted, and he immediately felt a ‘pop’ in his back and a burning sensation in his right hip. He was in agony, so his manager had sent him home immediately and Matt made an appointment with his GP the next day.

Once he saw his doctor, they placed him on a course of pain relief for four days, in the hopes that this would resolve his pain. After around a month’s time, Matt was still in significant pain and was suffering from a weakness in his right leg which meant he was struggling to work. He went back to his GP for more painkillers and to get officially signed off work.

After another month of intense back pain, his doctor finally referred him to hospital, where they sent Matt to a physiotherapist. After two months of treatment, Matt returned to work again, but on light duties.

However, despite Matt completing the physiotherapy treatment and returning to work, he found that he was still struggling with the severity of the pain. His back pain was worse, and he could not perform his normal duties at work, as all retail work entails a large amount of manual work, and especially a lot of standing.

After the accident, Matt could only work 20 hours a week, down from his usual 37. However, not only did the accident affect his employment and the income he received from this  but it also had an impact onhis personal life, as he could not take his children to school or properly care for them. Spending time  with friends became hard because of the pain, and he could not help his wife with household chores like he used to.

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How Simpson Millar Helped Matt

One of our Accident at Work lawyers handled Matt’s claim and, as part of the same, arranged for him to be   examined by a number of medical experts to understand the seriousness of his injuries.

It was discovered that Matt’s previous motorbike accident had damaged the soft tissue in the lower part of Matt’s back. And, whilst he’d been given treatment, the injury left him vulnerable to future back injuries and pain. So, when he’d twisted his body to stop himself from falling, he’d aggravated the same back injury, making it considerably worse.

The nerves at the bottom of his spine were also trapped which was giving him numbness and weakness in his right leg.

Following his medical examination, it was recommended that steroids, physiotherapy, joint injections and TENS treatment (which would send electric currents into Matt’s nerves) would help to alleviate and resolve Matt’s pain.. He was advised that it could take up to five years to make a full recovery from such a serious back injury; which is a significant recovery time for someone of Matt’s age, and previous abilities.

The injury combined with months of being unable to work or live his normal life had left Matt feeling anxious, and understandably, fed up. He thought his life wasn’t worth living and he was suffering from feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem at work.

One of our Solicitors looked into this further and discovered that, due to the accident, Matt had missed out on a promotion at work.

Before the accident, he’d been interviewed for a new Department Manager position. He was told that there was only one other applicant and that the job was as good as his. But when he came back to work after his sick leave, he discovered that his application had been rejected. The other applicant had been given the job and, to add insult to injury, Matt was then asked to train up the new Department Manager.

If Matt had been given this promised promotion, he’d have secured an above-average pay rise which would have made a significant difference to both his and his family’s lives. Because he could only work 20 hours a week, the reduced hours meant he was earning less than normal, and he wouldn’t be able to apply for another promotion anytime soon.

Additionally, as mentioned above Matt couldn't contribute to household chores or take care of his children. His mom had to step in for tasks such as taking the kids to school or to the park, while his wife and neighbour had to handle more strenuous tasks in the house and garden. Due to his limitations, Matt could not perform any activities involving bending, lifting, or carrying.

Understandably the significant loss of earnings, lack of promotion and not being able to look after his kids and wife significantly harmed Matt’s mental health and self-esteem, and it was established that he needed psychiatric support to help get him through.

With a loss of earnings and his family and friends having to pick up the day-to-day jobs around the home, Matt also had to find a way to attend his various mental and physical medical appointments. The only way he could do this was by public transport, which can be a considerable cost when there are so many appointments to attend.

The Outcome for Matt

After thoroughly investigating the case, we presented his lost earnings, and his missed promotion as part of his claim.

We also included the costs of Matt’s treatment, the care that his family and friends had had to provide him with, and the cost of public transport to and from his medical appointments.

Fortunately, the clothing retailer that Matt worked for admitted full responsibility for the accident, his subsequent back pain, loss of earnings and declining mental health.

Matt was delighted with his £50,000 in compensation to help him pay for his future back treatment, and get him back on track and enjoying life again.

How is injury compensation calculated?

When it comes to injury compensation, determining the entitled amount might initially appear difficult, yet it can essentially be dissected into two primary components.

The first of these is general damages, which considers the pain, suffering, and overall impact on your quality of life, known as PSLA (pain, suffering and loss of amenity). 

The second part of the calculation is special damages—which covers any financial setbacks and extra expenses incurred as a direct result of the injury, such as medical bills or lost wages. 

By looking at both of these factors together, we can figure out the right amount of compensation for your injury, making sure you're fairly compensated for what happened to you.

Contact Us 

If you suffer a Serious injury through no fault of your own, it can be difficult for life to feel normal again. But our team of specialist personal injury solicitors are here to help you rebuild. We can help you claim compensation for your injuries and any subsequent losses, such as loss of earnings. And, in some cases, we can also get you access to private medical care to help your recovery. Call us on 0808 239 3227 for a free claims assessment, as we help you get your life back on track.


GOV.UK. (n.d.). Taking Sick Leave.

WebMD. (n.d.). What Is a Physiotherapist?

Ortho-Spine. (n.d.). Soft Tissue Injuries.

Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS).

Amy Baker

Graduate Solicitor Apprentice

Amy is a Graduate Solicitor Apprentice within our Personal injury department, based in our Manchester office.

She helps clients who have sustained injuries resulting from accidents at work and accidents in public places to recover compensation for the injuries they have sustained.

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