Woman injured at work appeals for help in fight for justice

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Woman injured at work appeals for help in fight for justice

5th May 2010

A young Plymouth woman who permanently injured her back while at work is appealing to former colleagues to help in her fight for justice.

Caroline Hartshorn, of Crown Hill, was working as a chambermaid at The Innkeeper's Lodge in Howeson Lane, when a freak accident left her with a permanent back injury. Now, after suffering with back pain for more than five years, she is hoping former colleagues will come forward with information as she pursues a claim for compensation.

"I'd only started working at the hotel two days before it happened," said Ms Hartshorn (nee Harvey), 29. "Back then - September 2004 - The Innkeeper's Lodge was a brand new hotel still under construction, and wasn't open to the public. I understood the building work was a little behind schedule, and there was a lot of pressure on staff to do things quickly," she said.

"All of the beds in the hotel needed to be made up, and I was told to go up to the top floor to get some bedding. The sheets were in pre-packaged bundles, and I picked up as many as I could carry," she said. "The sheets were piled high and came up to about my chin, so my colleague and I went to the lift to go back down to a lower floor."

Ms Hartshorn said she was waiting for the lift with another member of staff, Lisa Dunston.

"The lift arrived and the doors opened," she said. "But as soon as I started to walk in I knew that something was wrong. The lift carriage had stopped a long way below the level of the floor, and I just fell down into the gap."

"I remember looking up at Lisa and she was standing above where I had fallen," she said. "I couldn't get out without help - the gap was quite big, and I'm only five feet tall - so Lisa helped to pull me up out of the lift."

"I was in agony and straight away I went to see a doctor, but despite being prescribed strong painkillers I was in excruciating pain."

Stephen Hill, a personal injury specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, said that Ms Hartshorn has had to live with back pain every day for the years that followed. "It was particularly difficult for Caroline after the birth of her daughter two and a half `years ago," he said.

"Medical tests have shown that she has sustained permanent damage to the soft tissue of the lower lumbar spine. Unfortunately, the pain is something she will have to live with for the rest of her life.

"We desperately need anyone who witnessed the incident to get in touch so that we can help Caroline secure the compensation to which she is entitled, and help her as she adjusts to living with her disability," he said. "In particular, we would be interested to hear from anyone who knows the whereabouts of Lisa Dunston, as we believe she could be vital in helping Caroline's case."

Can you help?
The incident occurred at The Innkeeper's Lodge in Howeson Lane, Plymouth, on 24 September, 2004. If you witnessed this incident or can help in any way, please contact Stephen Hill at Fentons Solicitors on 0161 238 6404, or e-mail stephen.hill@fentons.co.uk.