The claimant was unloading a lorry when a barrel of cider fell on his head. He had to sit down for a few minutes but did not lose consciousness and he completed his shift including driving the lorry. He did not see a doctor about it and continued to work as normal. Six weeks later he suffered a severe epileptic seizure and subsequently continued to have epileptic seizures. There was no family or personal history of epilepsy nor any predisposition to the condition. The issue for the court was whether the claimant had suffered from a brain injury in the form of amnesia at the time of the accident that increased the risk that he would later suffer epilepsy.

The claim failed. The Judge held that the claimant had failed to establish that the epilepsy had been caused by the accident because the evidence did not show that he had suffered a brain injury that would have increased his risk of suffering from the condition. The fact that he had suffered a head injury was not sufficient.

Gatfield -v- Whitbread Plc, QBD (Openshaw J), 9 August 2006.

CICA award for cumulative assaults

The client originally had a stress claim that was discontinued. She worked at a hospital for people with behavioural problems. She claimed that, as a result of a series of minor assaults over a period of six months, she suffered stress and depression. She also had her dental bridge knocked out in one incident. She had a lot of pre-existing psychological problems due to stress at work.

The CICAP awarded £4,400 for disabling mental illness lasting up to two years. The panel looked at the cumulative effect of the assaults and reduced the award by 50 per cent because of pre-existing problems. She was also awarded £1,000 for loss of the dental bridge.

You can learn more about Causation in Medical Negligence by reading our legal guide on the subject.