Wednesday, 17 April 2013

How a small accident at work can have huge repercussions

Have you have ever sustained an injury that didn’t receive proper medical attention? Perhaps afterwards it became a larger problem, turning a little accident into a disaster. 

Legally, receiving damages for the pain you suffered from this type of accident can cause two issues: first, that the injury was initially only minor, and perhaps you ignored it or didn’t officially declare the incident. Secondly, it can take a long time for minor injuries to become major issues – you may have forgotten the initial incident or previously settled a minor injury claim without realising the long term damage. 

A case study – small accident, big problems 

In our case study, 34 year old Peter, an office worker in Bristol, was carrying out some routine filing, when a box that was incorrectly left on a shelf fell, striking him on the shoulder. 

After the initial shock and pain involved in the accident wore off, Peter carried on working with a small amount of pain in his shoulder. At the time he simply associated the pain with the feeling of being hit and didn’t officially report the accident to the company’s Health and Safety Officer. However he did mention the incident to his manager as he was unhappy with the way the box had been left. 

Three months later, Peter found that he was still having serious pain in his shoulder. The bruising had healed weeks ago and he could see no visible reason why the pain should be continuing. After some nagging from his wife, Peter went to see the doctor about the discomfort in his shoulder. The doctor diagnosed the injury as being a combination of trapped nerves, tissue damage and a minor fracture of the shoulder. 

Peter had to have surgery in order to fix his shoulder. The operation came across some slight difficulty, as the injuries had already began to heal and needed to be corrected. After a successful operation, Peter was required to wear a sling for 6 weeks and rest his arm, during this time he was not able to return to work. He also had to take part in physiotherapy twice a week for up to 24 months to regain full movement of his shoulder. 

How Peter was affected by the injuries

One of the biggest problems Peter faced with this injury was the financial implications involved, as he was the main earner in his family and during the time of his accident, his wife was on maternity leave with their second child. What’s more, the surgery had to be carried out at a private hospital due to the long waiting lists for NHS treatment. Peter found himself with a mountain of medical bills that he simply couldn’t afford. Because the injury happened months before the surgery, Peter was unsure as to whether he would be able to claim compensation to help cover the cost of his medical expenses. 

Making a claim

Luckily for Peter, it is possible to make a compensation claim up to three years after an accident. Plus, because his manager mentioned the accident to the Health and Safety Officer who added it into the company’s log book, Peter had a good foundation to make a claim. He was awarded a settlement that helped to cover all of his medical costs and loss of earnings. 

If you have received a minor injury at work that turned into a much bigger problem then you may be entitled to compensation. Peter was extremely fortunate that he told his manager who told HSE and his injury was recorded; always make sure that if you’re injured at work you report it, regardless of how minor it may seem at the time. Make a claim as quickly as possible, this way you can recall the circumstances of the accident clearly and you can seek early legal advice from compensation lawyers.

1 comment:

  1. Very true!! It became a larger problem, turning a little accident into a disaster.

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