Case study: £340,500 for fatal workplace accident and secondary victim claim

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Our specialist workplace accident solicitors helped a client claim compensation on behalf of her husband, who received significant and preventable injuries on a construction site which led to his passing away.

Workplace accident circumstances

Mr H was involved in a fatal accident at work when he was working on a construction site, assisting in the construction of a retaining wall. Part of the wall had already been built, but a gap had been left for access.

Mr H was instructed to help fill the remaining gap in the wall by pouring concrete into it. When he did this, the wall collapsed on him, causing significant injury. He died in hospital the next day as a result of his injuries.

The claim for personal injury

Our personal injury solicitors were instructed by his wife, Mrs H, as his dependant and Administrator of his estate, to submit a personal injury claim against Mr H’s employer.

In addition, we supported Mrs H with a separate secondary victim claim, as she had visited her husband in the hospital shortly after his arrival and saw the devastating impact his injuries had on him.

Our Personal Injury team gathered all the information on the matter and submitted a Letter of Claim to the Defendant, Mr H’s employer. Although an admission of primary liability was received, the Defendant reserved the right to raise allegations of contributory negligence, if it was shown that a failure to wear a helmet contributed to Mr H’s death.

We received a copy of the interim death certificate, which confirmed that Mr H’s cause of death was chest injuries, which were unrelated to the use of a helmet. However, we had to await the outcome of any police and Health and Safety England (HSE) investigations before an inquest could take place to determine the cause of death. Until their investigations concluded, they also could not disclose any further evidence or information to us.

To confirm Mrs H’s legal entitlement to any compensation from the case, and in the absence of Mr H’s Will, we worked with our Private Client department to obtain the relevant Letters of Administration, the cost of which would be recovered as part of the personal injury claim.

Obtaining evidence

Our Personal Injury team obtained and collated Mr H’s medical, employment, and pension records, and interviewed a colleague of Mr H who witnessed the accident. The witness confirmed that all necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was worn. Although Mr H was not wearing a helmet immediately after the accident, this was likely because it had fallen off in the accident.

We reviewed the inquest documentation which contained evidence crucial to liability investigations. As the challenge of contributory negligence remained, we were able to prepare submissions for the pre-inquest review and include the costs of doing so within the claim.

Subsequently, we received a full admission of liability in relation to the fatal accident claim, after it was established that the cause of death was due to chest injuries, which a helmet would not have prevented.

Evaluating the value of the workplace accident claim

To evaluate the extent of the claim, we arranged a schedule of loss. This included the use of the Air Ambulance which attended Mr H at the scene. We wrote to the charity to obtain details of the mission costs, as Mrs H was passionate about recovering the cost within the claim to ensure the charity could use the funds to assist others.

Our team also reviewed Mr H’s medical records to evaluate the likely compensation for his pain and suffering before his death. After we issued court proceedings, we prepared a detailed schedule of loss which included:

  • The loss prior to Mr H’s passing.
  • The funeral expenses.
  • The Air Ambulance mission costs.

In addition, a past and future financial dependency claim was submitted to compensate for Mrs H’s loss of dependency on Mr H’s income and future pension.

Following the service of proceedings, an offer was received of £270,000. We made a counteroffer of £360,000. Further offers were made, and a settlement of £325,000 was eventually reached.

The secondary victim claim

Whilst proceeding with Mrs H’s personal injury claim on behalf of the Estate, we identified our client may be eligible to pursue a secondary victim claim, on the basis that she had witnessed the immediate aftermath of the tragic accident.

Our team notified the Defendant’s insurers of the claim, but they maintained that the criteria necessary for a secondary victim claim were not met.

We sought advice from Counsel, who was supportive of the case, but raised some hurdles that we needed to overcome. Although Mrs H did not witness the accident, she did see Mr H’s severe injuries when she attended the hospital, and she was not informed of the severity of the injuries before arrival.

Our team obtained copies of Mrs H’s medical records and a report from a Psychiatrist. His expert opinion was that Mrs H’s witnessing her husband being treated in A&E had caused her to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which included reliving events, flashbacks, nightmares and general anxiety. The specialist recommended a course of CBT and was hopeful that the PTSD would likely resolve with the treatment.

This report was served on the Defendant’s Solicitors in support of the claim, alongside a schedule of loss. This included Mrs H’s loss of earnings for time off work following her husband’s death, a period of reduced hours, and the cost of the recommended treatment.

An offer of £12,000 was initially received for the secondary victim claim, but after negotiations, it settled for £15,500.

Further information

If you’ve been injured as a result of an accident at work, you might be able to claim compensation. Our expert workplace accident solicitors work with clients across the UK from our offices in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

To speak to a member of our personal injury team obligation-free, call us on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.


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