‘Innocuous’ fall at work leads to post-traumatic arthritis

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‘Innocuous’ fall at work leads to post-traumatic arthritis

19th October 2015

A man who broke his wrist and elbow when he fell down a set of stairs at work has received £80,000 in damages after being told he had developed post-traumatic arthritis.

Simon Alexander, an expert in cases involving accidents in the workplace, said his client had suffered seemingly straightforward injuries after the incident, but medical experts discovered the extent of the damage was much more serious.

“The accident was initially viewed by all - including my client himself - as relatively innocuous,” said Simon, a member of the specialist Employers’ Liability department at Fentons Solicitors LLP. “He was working as a production operative manufacturing building materials, and was part of a team making a concrete cast. In order to reach certain parts of the 8 feet high cast, he had climbed a wooden staircase next to it.

“The cast was outdoors and although it wasn’t raining at the time of the accident it had been raining earlier, and as my client began to climb down the stairs he slipped on the surface, falling straight forwards and missing all of the steps on his way to the concrete ground below.”

Simon said his client took the full brunt of the fall on his head and arm. “Thankfully he was wearing a hard hat so avoided any serious head injury,” he said, “but his arm was in a lot of pain and he was taken by a colleague to the nearby hospital.”

X-rays revealed he had fractured his elbow in two places and also fractured his wrist in the fall, his arm was placed in a plaster cast. Although he was in a lot of pain, the assumption was that, like most broken bones, the injuries would heal and he would return to full fitness.

“He seemed to have made a good recovery and returned to work shortly afterwards, but as our medical experts further examined scans and x-rays of his arm, they discovered the alarming truth,” said Simon. “Scans showed signs of post-traumatic arthritis in his arm, which means that over the next 10-20 years my client will develop pain and stiffness in the wrist and elbow. This will mean that ultimately he will need to undergo surgery, by way of both fusion of the wrist joint and unfortunately a total elbow replacement.”

Simon said the injury means his client will in the future begin to suffer significant pain and discomfort, will be unable to carry out the type of manual work that he has done to date, and will be out of work and lose earnings due to the surgery he will inevitably need.

“This case underlines the importance of seeking specialist advice as soon after an injury has been sustained as possible,” said Simon. “Compensation claims can only be settled once, and had the claimant not bothered to pursue the claim when he did, then he would potentially have been left without damages for the future complications that he will face. Although he is currently pain free and still working, the medical experts were able to demonstrate how unfortunately that will not be the case for the remainder of his working life.

“What seemed only a modest injury turned out to be considerably more significant than the claimant could ever have appreciated,” said Simon. “Unfortunately he will develop significant pain and stiffness in the wrist and elbow, and require invasive surgical procedures as he gets older.

“I hope this settlement will help him as he makes plans for the next few years of his career, and enables to him concentrate fully on his recovery as opposed to worrying about his future financial security.”

After the man’s employer admitted liability for the incident, Simon settled the claim on behalf of his client in the sum of £80,000.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons Solicitors has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of accidents in the workplace.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.