Inadequate signage

The claimant entered her own workplace hospital as a visitor, delivering a raffle prize. She saw, off the main corridor, a cleaner with a cone behind her and opposite the cleaner, again off the corridor, two wet-floor warning cones in bays 1 and 2. She did not think the corridor was wet as it had no cone. It was and she slipped.

The relevant law, as a visitor, was common law and the Occupiers’ Liability Act. The Judge held it was breached in the failure to give adequate signage in the corridor.

No contributory negligence as the lack of signs/cones meant there was no reason to take special care.

The Hospital had an indemnity from their cleaners, Carillon plc.
Lincoln CC 17 June 2008

Failure to clear spillage

This time the claimant was at work at the NHS Trust. She slipped on water in a ward corridor.

The defendant said they made out a defence of reasonable practicability under the Workplace Regulation 12 (3) because they had a clean-as-you-go policy, which all staff were aware of; vigilance was emphasised and that if a spillage were found, warning signs would be placed over it until the spillage was cleared away.

The claimant’s case was that, as she sat on the floor directly after her fall, she saw a circular smear as if someone had tried, and failed to clean the spillage previously. The defendant said that may have been her skid but we contended that would have been a straight line by a shoe not a circular smear.

The Judge accepted the defendant’s evidence as to their rigorous policy and thus doubted a staff member had left a spillage unattended but, once he accepted the presence of the smear, had to conclude the defendant must, on balance of probabilities, be liable for someone in their employ failing to clear the previous spillage properly.

The Judge deducted 20% of our costs as the claimant had first mentioned the smear in her witness statement, and not in the letter, or particulars of claim.
Birmingham CC, 8 July 2008,

Highway trip: rocking pavement

This case is really about analysing what the inspection records reveal about what plausibly looks a regular system of inspection.

The defendant showed they identified a dangerous rocking paving slab on 9 January 2004, thus purportedly had a good system to identify these hazards. But they could not prove they repaired it in 24 hours or at all. They then inspected the accident site on 12 March 2004 closely before our accident date, again seemingly a good defence.

But the records also showed reports of hazards in that area on 24-26 March, thus implying the inspector had not done a very good job spotting hazards a fortnight before. The Judge said it was a great shame the inspector was not at trial to answer questions.

The claimant went back to her accident site six weeks after the accident and measured the rocking hazard at about 2in. The Judge accepted that may have increased a bit since her fall but also accepted that would in any event have been a hazard when she fell .

Judgment for the claimant

Bow County Court, 24 April 2008.

Low beds, manual handling and care work

A post-risk assessment had revealed a need for a hospital adjustable bed, just 11 days after the claimant had had a back strain changing a patient, because of the claimant’s posture due to the low bed.

The Judge asked if the patient had deteriorated between the accident and the risk assessment to explain the need to change the bed. The defendant witness said no.

The last risk assessment on the patient was a full 15 months before the accident.

Defendant counsel then used a break to make offer of £4500. We accepted.

Norwich CC, 30 June 2008.