Background

In June 2012 Laura Ball (LB) instructed Russell-Cooke LLP to investigate a Personal Injury claim in respect of a dislocated shoulder she suffered on 23 November 2006 while working for the Defendant.

LB and a colleague were lifting a metal rail loaded with clothes down two stairs when LB felt her right shoulder dislocate and buckle and the clothes rail fell on top of her.  Following the accident she completed an accident form and shortly afterwards the building's facilities manager sent out an email advising staff that it was not safe to carry rails.

LB did not pursue a claim after the accident because, although the injury was painful, her shoulder quickly popped back in and she hoped that it would resolve itself.  She was also at the start of her career, in a junior position and did not want to make a fuss.

However, LB's injury became progressively worse and she dislocated her shoulder again on several occasions.  The third time LB dislocated her shoulder in August 2009 was particularly painful, and although it went back in quite quickly it felt unstable for sometime afterwards.  At this point LB contacted her GP who recommended physiotherapy.  LB raised her accident with the Defendant and asked if it would contribute towards the costs of private physiotherapy treatment, but she was refused.

In March 2012 LB dislocated her shoulder for the sixth time while drying her hair in the changing room at her gym, and was taken to A&E for treatment.  Following this incident LB underwent a series of scans, which revealed that she had suffered significant damage to her shoulder.  She was advised that she would require an operation.

LB was still employed by the Defendant and asked if it would help pay for the necessary surgery.  However, she was informed that the Defendant had no record of her original accident or her request for medical assistance in 2009 and therefore was unable to help with the cost. 

The Legal Case

LB instructed Russell-Cooke three years after the three-year time limit for making a personal injury claim expired. 

LB's allegations against the Defendant included failing to carry out a sufficient risk assessment in respect of moving the clothes rails and failing to warn LB of the potential dangers.

A Defence was received on 26 September 2012, which argued that LB's claim was made out of time.  However, after reviewing the medical records Russell-Cooke argued that LB did not realise the extent of her injury until she first attended her GP in August 2009, and on that basis her claim was issued within the three-year time limit.

Two days before the hearing to decide whether LB's claim was out of time the Defendant admitted liability. 

Medical evidence

A report was obtained from a consultant orthopaedic and trauma surgeon.

Condition:

LB was suffering from a recurrent dislocation of her right shoulder.

Prognosis:

Without treatment LB would continue to suffer from further dislocations with increased ease and pain, however, with surgery and physiotherapy LB could anticipate increased stability in her shoulder and the return of an almost full range of movement.    

Settlement

Once the Defendant admitted breach of duty, the parties entered into negotiations with a view to reaching settlement.  An offer to settle for £30,000 was made, which was accepted by the Defendant on 6 March 2013. 

A rough breakdown of the amount is as follows:

General Damages:                 £15,000

Special Damages:

Past Losses:

Past Care Expenses               £2,000

Future Losses:

Future Medical Expenses:      £13,000

GRAND TOTAL                       £30,000

The claim was funded by way of a "No win, no fee" agreement"