Introduction

On 16th March 2008, Mrs P, a 64 year old woman, suffered severe upper body injuries whilst shopping, in Habitat on the King's Road.

Mrs P was in the basement level of the store with a friend. She walked towards the back of the store accessing the area by climbing up 3 steps. She then turned and walked towards a shelving display which had caught her eye and fell down due to a change in floor level created by the presence of a ramp, hitting her face on the shelving unit before landing on the ground. 

Mrs P was visiting the UK (she normally resides in Italy), she was taken to hospital for emergency treatment but discharged later that day and her injuries were treated in Italy.

Legal case

We were instructed by Mrs P in February 2009.  

We advised her (after carrying out a site inspection) that we felt she had a good claim because the discrepancy in the floor levels was not marked and was difficult to observe from the angle that Mrs P had approached it. In addition the store changed its layout following Mrs P's accident.

A Letter of Claim was sent to Habitat on 17th April 2009 and on 17th June 2009, they accepted full legal responsibility for the accident. 

Pending receipt of medical evidence and after obtaining Witness Statements and preparing a Schedule of out of pocket expenses for Mrs P, we made an offer to settle her claim. The Defendant did not respond so legal proceedings were issued at Court on 22nd December 2010.

After some further negotiations the case settled for £30,000 plus legal costs.

Medical evidence

Medical reports were obtained from an Orthopaedic Surgeon and an Ear, Nose and Throat expert. Mrs P suffered from a broken nose and displaced septum. Her sense of smell and hearing were affected. Her vocal chords were paralysed on the left side and she had problems speaking and swallowing. She had a temporary numbness to her left cheek and upper left teeth. Mrs P required physiotherapy, speech therapy and a silicon implant in her left paralysedvocal cord torestore her speech. She was left with permanent symptoms which included a tired voice, hoarseness and difficulty swallowing certain types of food. Mrs P also had a reduced sense of smell. 

The damage to the cranial nerves also caused a weakness in Mrs P's left shoulder which left her with a burning sensation and discomfort. In addition, she suffered a whiplash type injury and a fracture to her left wrist.

Settlement

The figure agreed between the parties was £30,000. A "rough and ready" breakdown of the settlement is set out below:

Award for Mrs P's pain, suffering and loss of amenity          £25,000

Award for Mrs P's expenses                                             £  5,000

Russell-Cooke acted for Mrs P pursuant to a "no win, no fee" agreement. 

In addition to the settlement, the Defendant also agreed to pay her legal fees.