The personal injury and clinical negligence team was instructed by the family of Joan Daws, whose tragic death was the subject of an inquest over four days at Sandwich Coroners Court.


Ms Daws died whilst working as a senior carer at a residential care home. She died as a result of a crushing incident involving a weighing chair when she became trapped in a lift with one ‘open’ side that was more than 30 years old. 

Ms Daws entered the lift with the mobile weighing chair in order to move the chair from the second floor to the first floor to weigh a patient at the care home.

Shortly after entering, the lift jolted to a halt and Ms Daws was heard to be screaming by her colleagues at the care home. Her colleagues were unable to free the lift doors and the emergency services were called.

The emergency services arrived to find Ms Daws in an unresponsive condition with the weighing chair wedged between the wall of the lift shaft and Ms Daws’ chest and throat, pushing on her windpipe. By the time that Ms Daws was freed from the lift car and the weighing chair lifted from her, she had lost consciousness. Ms Daws unfortunately did not regain consciousness and died in hospital six days later.

The inquest

The inquest jury recorded Ms Daws’ medical cause of death as being hypoxic brain injury due to trauma.

The jury at the inquest concluded that the care home had failed to follow their statutory obligations regarding the use and inspection of the lift. Had the care home carried out the appropriate safety measures then it is likely Ms Daws would be alive today.

Following this, the inquest jury concluded that opportunities were missed to implement recommendations and that had a light sensor been fitted, it is highly unlikely that such an incident would have occurred and Ms Daws’ tragic death would have been avoided.

Russell-Cooke has subsequently been instructed to pursue a civil claim against the care home.