Personal injury case: Slip in pub kitchen
February 23, 2021
We acted for a waitress whose case recently went to trial after she slipped in the kitchen of a pub restaurant. For reasons which never became clear, the floor was routinely cleaned in the middle of the day, during the busy lunch service.
Our client reported the accident straight away and the accident book recorded that the floor was wet, with no “wet floor” signs in place. However, the manager who completed the accident book later claimed that this was just what our client had told her, not what she recalled at the time.
The pub denied liability, arguing that our client was wearing inappropriate shoes, that there were wet floor signs in place, and that she was looking at her phone when she fell. Our client denied using her phone and said that she was wearing work-appropriate, flat shoes.
Our client stuck to her account right through to the trial and the judge accepted her version of events. He rejected the assertion that she was on her phone at the time – he said that, just because she had her phone in her hand by the time the manager arrived on the scene, there was no evidence she had been using it when she fell. She maintained, and the judge accepted, that she was carrying bowls of food when she slipped on the wet floor, emphasising that her manager had seen her shoes earlier that day and had not commented on them.
The judge also found there were, in fact, no wet floor signs. Although the pub’s manager and another witness claimed there had been signs, they both accepted when giving evidence, that they had discussed the accident and the wet floor signs and agreed they may have confused what should have happened with what actually happened that day.
If you suffer an accident at work, it is very important to make sure you seek early legal advice and give your solicitors a clear account of how the accident happened, which should be consistent with the account you gave your employers and doctors. Defendants often do not take witness statements immediately and, by the time they do, the evidence of their witnesses tends to reflect what they think must have happened, rather than what did happen. The witnesses are not usually deliberately lying, it is just they are trying to recall the events too long after they occurred.
In this case, our client was our only witness, while her employers had two witnesses who gave very different accounts of what happened. As we approached the trial, several barristers told us they would not take the case on a no win, no fee basis due to concerns that it would be unsuccessful. However, we believed our client was telling the truth and were confident her account was more consistent with the accident report, so we funded a barrister for the trial and won the case.
On our advice, our client had made offers to settle, which the insurers had rejected, meaning the matter was taken to trial. Our client “beat” her own offer at trial so the judge awarded her an additional 10% penalty on top of her damages, as well as additional interest and legal costs.
If you’ve had a work accident and you think you’re owed compensation, get in touch with James Hemsley or Beth King on 020 8313 1300 or contact them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
The information contained in this article is intended for general guidance only. It provides useful information but it is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice as the articles do not take into account specific circumstances. So do please Contact US for legal advice on the issues raised.