Compensate referral after stalemate results in 3x increase in offer

Man standing and looking out to sea

Case study: Compensate referral after stalemate results in 3x increase in offer

This matter was referred to Digby Brown LLP by Messrs Scullion Law of Hamilton, as part of their membership of the Compensate Network. A frustrated local man had consulted them for a second opinion on the advice he had received from two previous agents.

His personal injury case had dragged on since 2005 and he had been advised to accept a Tender of £5,000 net of benefits. Following the intervention of Scullion Law and Digby Brown LLP, the case settled for £17,000 net of £13,000 benefits. This represented a more than threefold increase.

Accident injuries

The client suffered a soft tissue injury to his back following a fall down a steep cellar staircase on a night out to his local pub on 18 July 2005. He was initially unable to return to manual work as a bricklayer's labourer. He became depressed. In addition to significant difficulties in relation to liability, the case was complex as the client’s depression interfered with his perception of pain. The client had a poor employment history and was susceptible to psychiatric problems.

Proved accident liability

The pub maintained a long standing denial that they were liable to make a payment to the client. The action settled one week before the a 3 day hearing was scheduled to take place at Hamilton Sherrif Court. The case gathered pace upon the instruction of the Digby Brown. Our client's new legal team were successful in carrying out extensive amendments to the written pleadings 4 years beyond the date of time bar.

A detailed Vicarious and Occupier’s Liability case was developed. Compensate were able to fund reports from a Consultant Orthopeadic Surgeon, a Consultant Psychiatrist, a Vocational Consultant and a Health and Safety Consultant. It was argued that cellar door was not properly adapted with a keeper handle so that when it was unlocked, it could open freely when patrons leaned against it.

Even though the client’s judgement was undoubtedly affected by alcohol, it was submitted that the bar ought to have foreseen that drinkers in a narrow corridor may lean against the door in these circumstances. The door was directly across from the ladies toilets and could easily have be mistaken for the gents. The bar ought to have carried out a risk assessment and staff should have been instructed to keep the door locked.

It was also submitted that there should have been a larger landing on the other side of the door and that there ought to have been a lift up type barrier on the other side of the door. The client had a lucky escape: in July 2010, 36 year old James Teasdale plunged to his death down a flight of cellar stairs in very similar circumstances in Zest Bar, Scarborough. In that case, the pub landlord was found guilty of manslaughter and was jailed for 2 years.