• Brachers has recovered a five-figure sum of compensation for a captain in the shipping industry, for a serious shoulder injury sustained during his employment.

    The permanent injury meant he was unable to return to his former work. We successfully obtained compensation for his injuries and financial losses, acting on a no win, no fee basis.

    Brief summary of the claim

    Our client, WB from the Medway towns, was a very experienced Tugboat Captain, working on both the River Medway and River Thames. His workplace was therefore, rather unusually for a work accident claim, a boat. The business had originally been his father’s and WB had continued to be employed after it was sold to the new owners.

    At the time of his accident, recent repair work to the boat’s tail shaft had required the removal of the bottom step of the access ladder to the tail shaft area. Following completion of the repairs, the bottom step of the ladder had been replaced with a temporary wooden step. The boat was then returned into service with the wooden step in situ.

    Unknown to WB, the temporary step had not been secured in place. In the course of his work he descended the ladder, and as he stepped onto the temporary step it flew up, causing him to fall and land heavily on his shoulder. WB ended up having  shoulder surgery as a result, but this proved ineffective, and he was left with a permanent functional disability. Due to the heavy, physical nature of his work, which involved rope and overhead work, he was unable to return and received only statutory sick pay.

    Dealing with allegations of contributory negligence

    WB instructed Brachers Senior Litigation Executive, Lyn Lester, to deal with his claim. A priority in the case was dealing with allegations against WB by his employer. Although they admitted primary liability, the employer alleged there should be a one-third deduction for contributory negligence. This was on the basis that our client was responsible for ensuring the health and safety of those on board. Therefore, his employers argued he should have checked the step and that it was safe. A finding of one-third contributory negligence would have reduced his overall damages compensation by the same percentage.

    We denied this, as our client was unaware that the step had not been fixed down and he had not been asked to check it. Someone else was responsible for overseeing the repairs to the boat and had cleared the boat to return to service. It was that person who should have ensured the step was safe for those onboard before authorising its return. Within a few days of his accident, the ladder steps were completely re-fitted, including new treads and a handrail. Had these works been carried out before the boat was returned to service, the accident could have been entirely avoided.

    Evidence in the claim and how we helped the client

    We obtained medical evidence from an expert specialising in upper limb injuries. The employer also obtained their own medical evidence. As part of the claim, we were able to obtain an interim payment. This assisted WB financially whilst he remained out of work and was unable to find suitable alternative employment.

    The matter was subsequently set down for trial and the employer further attempted to discredit our client by obtaining undercover video surveillance footage of him on several occasions. Their medical expert suggested the video footage showed he would be capable of doing his former job and put forward a low offer in an attempt to settle the claim. However, the video footage simply captured our client going about his ordinary day to day activities. It did not show him engaging in any heavy, physical, overhead tasks akin to the tasks required in his work.

    The video footage was found not to contradict the medical evidence in his claim. That evidence supported a permanent functional shoulder disability and that he remained unfit to return to his former work. This was a job that he greatly enjoyed, in an industry he had worked in throughout his working life. As a result, we were able to negotiate a significantly higher settlement of the claim on his behalf.

    How can we help you?

    Lyn Lester is a Senior Litigation Executive and an Associate of CILEX.  She is experienced in various types of personal injury compensation claims, especially from accidents at work, acting on a no win, no fee.

    If you are considering a personal injury or industrial disease claim, you can book a 30-minute virtual appointment with our team to find out more about how we could help you.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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