Court award 6 times more compensation for injury claim
Stewart Dewar was working as a delivery driver when he badly injured his back at a delivery to a supermarket in Stirling.
The van hadn’t been loaded correctly. This meant in order to be able to access the right delivery for the store, he had to move wheeled cages out the way. While trying to do so, the wheeled cages - weighing 20 stone each – moved and trapped him.
“I was pinned and there was no-one to help. I felt like I was struggling to free myself for about 15 minutes and eventually I got free but I was injured”.
Kim Catterall, personal injury solicitor at Digby Brown’s Edinburgh office: “This was clearly breaking health and safety regulations. Those cages should have been restrained with separation bars between cages.
“The van should have been loaded correctly. If this had been done, it could have prevented Stewart from being injured.”
With Kim’s help, Stewart successfully pursued fair compensation for his injuries – and helped establish a legal point that could help people in similar situations to him throughout Scotland.
“It felt like I couldn’t breathe”
“At first I didn’t feel any pain because I was so hyped up but by the time someone from work arrived an hour later, I was in agony. Every time I took a breath, it hurt.”
Stewart was taken to the Minor Injuries Unit in Stirling but after examination, he was finding it difficult to walk and was put on a spinal injury board and transferred to a specialist hospital.
The diagnosis was a crush injury to his abdomen, lower back and pelvis.
He has suffered from ongoing pain and stiffness in his back and referred pain in his legs, stopping him from returning to work and his life before the accident.
“I struggle every day”
“Even putting on my socks or shoes is a struggle and I need help. It’s a never ending story for me, my back injury will affect me, and my family, for the rest of my life and determine what I can and can’t do.
“I suffer from anxiety and depression now as I can’t work, or be as mobile as I used to. I hate going out using my walking stick as I feel people are looking and judging me but I need it to get about.”
“My boss threatened my job”
Stewart was off work for almost 9 months and tried to go back to work on lighter duties – he was willing to do anything as he wanted to get back to work. However, his boss said they could not find an alternative role for him and terminated his contract.
“Initially I wasn’t going to do anything but about four weeks after the incident, my boss called to saying he needed to know when I would be back to work as they were taking on new drivers. It felt like a threat -if you don’t come back you lose your job.
“Before the accident I was always in early, would work late and do extra shifts to help them but it felt like all my efforts were not thought of by them at all or appreciated.”
Work injury claim with Digby Brown
Stewart contacted us at Digby Brown to see if he has a case for a work injury claim and Kim Catterall, personal injury solicitor at Digby Brown’s Edinburgh office, pursued his case.
“I can’t thank Digby Brown enough for their help”
“My solicitor Kim Catterall was fantastic, she went out of her way to help me and the advice was great. At no point were any wrong steps made, everything they did helped progress the case and move things forward.
“I can’t thank Kim enough for all she did, there’s not a word to express it. She was very, very helpful and would return calls and keep you informed all the way through. She would give plenty of notice of appointment you needed to go to, and it was all the best medical experts, everyone was amazing. Even at court she was right there reassuring us.”
“Initial offer a slap in the face”
The insurers made an initial offer of £8,000 in compensation. Our expert personal injury solicitors advised Stewart that they could obtain a better offer for him and he was entitled to more compensation.
“It was a slap in the face basically. I felt disgusted and angry with the offer, and a little belittled by it. It was almost Christmas and I think they hoped I would grab it.
“Thankfully Kim advised that she thought I was entitled to more compensation but left it to me to decide whether or not to accept the offer. It was always my decision which was great. I trusted what Digby Brown were saying and rejected the offer."
Work injury claim taken to court
The insurers offered another compensation offer of £17,000 but again this was rejected. They refused to offer any more compensation but this offer was far from the true value of the case.
Our Edinburgh solicitors raised the case in court to secure fair compensation and the case went to a four-day hearing in the court of session with junior and senior counsel.
The expenses and outlays in Stewart’s case were covered though Digby Brown’s ‘Compensate’ funding model, meaning Stewart was at no financial risk while seeking justice and fair compensation.
Insurers attempt to reduce compensation
Part of any personal injury claim is the help rendered for an injured person from a relative. At the moment, a relative is defined by law as a spouse or a person living with the injured person as husband and wife.
Insurers attempted to argue that because Stewart and his girlfriend did not live together under the same roof, that compensation should not be paid for the help she provided.
However, our solicitors argued that the current interpretation did not reflect modern family units and today, living together, meant more than just sharing a roof. Although Stewart and his girlfriend weren’t living together they could still be considered as ‘living together as husband and wife’.
The court accepted our argument and the case made law in relation to the treatment of unmarried couples not living together but helping after an injury.
Six times more compensation for injury claim
In the end, our solicitors persuaded the judge with the arguments put forward and the court awarded £51,080 in compensation for Stewart.
This was more than six times the initial offer of £8,000.
“The compensation I received was better than expected- I couldn’t be happier. It was all because of the hard work and diligence of my solicitor Kim and the rest of team.
“The compensation has given me and the family a bit of comfort and took away from of the worry and stress. I can’t drive a manual car anymore and I struggled to get out the house but with the compensation, I bought an automatic car which gave me back some of my freedom."
“Accident could have been avoided easily”
“I feel angry about it now because the problem was an easy thing to solve. It was a mistake made by overworked, tired and underpaid workers. I’m suffering because people cut costs and didn’t get the right equipment.
“The number of complaints made about the loads were unbelievable and if they had listened to the people before me, my accident would not have happened.”
“If you think the accident was someone else’s fault, speak to someone.”
“I would advise anyone in my position to speak to the right people about making a claim – if you’re thinking about it, just do it. I wasn’t in a great place to deal with it but after getting advice I felt better.
“I hope by reading about what happened to me, it helps other people decide to get in touch with Digby Brown.”