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Wet floor fall lead to loss of woman’s career overseas
A woman who had to give up her nursing career overseas when she broke her collarbone in a fall on a wet floor has received £160,000 in an out of court settlement.
Richard Duxbury, an occupier’s liability expert at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said that despite numerous operations since the incident occurred almost six years ago, the woman’s complicated shoulder injuries had failed to heal properly.
“On the day of the accident, my client and her husband were in a bar in the UK meeting friends who they hadn’t seen since they had gone to live abroad,” said Richard, a legal executive with the firm. “Unaware that the floor was wet, one of the friends embraced my client and lifted her off the floor, almost immediately slipping and falling backwards.
“Still clasped in the arms of her friend, my client fell forwards and struck her head and shoulder heavily on the floor,” said Richard. “She was in immediate severe pain, and her arm swelled so much she was unable to move. She was taken to hospital where x-rays revealed she had shattered her collarbone.”
Following a two-day stay in hospital the claimant, who is in her 40s, was discharged into the care of her husband. “Over the next three months, he provided assistance with all her day-to-day needs and personal care including helping her getting in and out of bed each day, dressing and undressing, bathing and showering and preparing all her meals,” said Richard.
“After three months, during which time she suffered constant pain and swelling and was unable to rotate her arm, my client was told that her broken bones had failed to unite properly and she would need an operation.”
Following her surgery, which included having metalwork inserted into her arm, she underwent extensive physiotherapy. But despite months of treatment she continued to suffer often excruciating pain around her shoulder and throughout her arm, leaving her hand feeling particularly weak and preventing her from typing, writing and lifting anything without pain.
Almost a year after her accident, the claimant underwent surgery to remove the metalwork from her shoulder. “Unfortunately, this only resulted in yet more pain and swelling and she was again told that her injury was failing to heal,” said Richard.
After another 12 months of constant pain, physiotherapy and consultations, a third operation saw another metal plate being installed, and the woman underwent an artificial bone graft.
“Having initially planned to stay in the UK for 12 months to catch up with family and friends, my client’s injury meant that she and her family were unable to return to their home overseas and had to delay their departure for another year to allow her to recover,” said Richard. “The unrelenting pain and prospect of not being able to return to a country and nursing profession she loved proved incredibly taxing emotionally and my client was plagued with guilt that she was unable to provide her young daughter with the physical and emotional support she was used to.
“Her inability to work meant that when she and her family eventually returned to their home overseas, they were under severe financial pressure – not least as all their belongings had been in paid storage throughout the whole time they had been away,” said Richard. “Despite this, my client was hopeful that she would not only be able to quickly recover from her surgery but that she would also be able to resume her nursing career as soon as possible. Sadly however, this was not to be.”
Although the claimant continued to receive medical care abroad, it proved extremely expensive as she had to pay for all her consultations, rehabilitation treatment and medication herself, despite being unemployed. “Finding work would ordinarily not have been difficult due to her qualifications and experience – not to mention the shortage of nursing staff in her chosen country of residence,” said Richard. “But because of her ongoing symptoms and the prospect that, even if employed, she would need to take frequent and possibly substantial time off work, she was completely unable to secure a job.
“Thankfully, we were able to secure £15,000 for treatment from the defendant’s insurers who admitted liability for my client’s injury soon after her accident,” said Richard. “After several months trying to regain the life she had known and loved before her injury, she and her family were forced to return to the UK because of the crippling debts that had amassed as a direct consequence of her accident. Following their return home, we were able to secure another £20,000 in interim payments to pay for her continuing medical needs.
“The significant ordeal my client has had to endure through no fault of her own has had a devastating impact on her family and their plans for their life abroad,” added Richard. “Although she can now do some things around the house, her range of movement is extremely limited and she cannot raise her arm above her head or carry anything of weight without pain. Being left-handed, she has found it incredibly frustrating and upsetting at having to rely on her daughter to be her carer and not being able to do simple everyday tasks that ordinarily she would have done without thinking.
“My client is still taking painkillers and has been told it is highly likely she will need further surgery,” said Richard. “This case took so long to conclude as medical experts were unable to properly assess her claim until her injuries began to settle, but hopefully following this settlement she and her family can begin to look to the future.”
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