JOHN CRUICKSHANK v OCS GROUP (UK) LTD (2017)

Published in Lawtel issue 18 May 2018

Solicitor Sarah Mawdsley

Total Damages: £15,000 (£15,174.48 RPI)
PSLA: £11,000 (£11,127.95 RPI)
Trial/settlement date: 22/9/2017
Type of Award: Out of Court Settlement
Court: Out of Court Settlement
Age at trial: 82
Age at injury: 79
Sex: Male

The claimant, an 82-year-old man, received £15,000 after falling at an airport, in February 2015, when a company’s employee did not provide him with a wheelchair despite being informed that he required one.

Other: On 18 February 2015 the claimant (C), who had reduced mobility, was flying with his carer into an airport where he had previously arranged, as part of the booking process, for the defendant company (D) to provide him with a wheelchair. C had a history of cervical spinal stenosis which limited his mobility and he used a walking-frame for travelling short distances, such as around his home, but a wheelchair for longer distances.

D’s employee assisted C off the aircraft to the luggage carousel area and told C to use a walking-frame instead of his wheelchair. C advised D’s employee that he could only walk a short distance when using a walking-frame but D’s employee advised C that the distance was short and that he could use his frame safely. Due to the distance C was required to walk using the frame, he fell from standing height on to the ground on his left side.

C sustained injury and brought an action against D alleging that it was negligent in failing to provide C with a wheelchair contrary to his prior arrangements and his need for adjustments to be made.

Liability admitted.

Injuries: C sustained injuries to the left shoulder, left hip and back.

Total injury duration: permanent

Effects: C suffered a tear of the left rotator cuff, a very narrow sub-acromial space at the tip of the type II acromion, with degenerative changes at the acromio-clavicular joint. X-rays showed degenerative changes on the lower thoracic vertebrae but there was no sign of a fracture. C suffered an exacerbation of pre-existing pain from left acromio-clavicular joint arthritis and from degenerative changes in the lumbar spine. He also experienced tenderness in the left hip due to trochanteric bursitis or localised bruising.

Following the accident C experienced headaches daily and his vision was affected and became hazy when he got a headache. He also experienced a tight feeling in the deltoid muscle which varied daily. The accident left C feeling sore on the left side of the body and, if sitting, the pain gradually became worse. He also experienced weakness in the left hip but no pain in the groin or buttock. The pain in the lower back became worse when he moved.

C had pre-existing myelopahty and as a result had low functional levels and required constant care. After the accident there was a slight decrease in his functional ability due to a reduction in the movement of the left shoulder. His function in the left hand was already extremely poor due to a pre-existing condition.

After the accident C had to use a walking stick in the left hand. His gait became slow and shuffling and his partner had to support him from behind. He also required help when transferring in and out of bed and out of a car. Before the accident he had been able to dress himself. However, after the accident he required daily assistance from his partner to do so.

C took paracetamol four times daily, in solution form due to suffering dysphagia. He underwent x-rays, an MRI scan and an injection into the left shoulder. He was unable to undergo physiotherapy due to previous cardiac problems.

At the date of the medical examination on 19 June 2017, C’s shoulder, back and hip pain, headaches and vision problems remained unchanged. C’s medical expert believed that, due to the index accident, the deterioration in the shoulder had been accelerated by approximately three years.

Out of Court Settlement: £15,000 total damages

Background to damages: C had to pay for another flight for himself and his carer as they had missed their connecting flight.

C’s partner and carer provided care on a gratuitous basis but C argued that assisting him with dressing was distinctly beyond that which was part of the ordinary regime of family life.

The case was settled on a global basis with no particular breakdown of damages. However, the following breakdown was estimated by the claimant’s solicitors:

Breakdown of General Damages: Pain, suffering and loss of amenity: Between £10,000 and £12,000.

Simmons v Castle [2012] EWCA Civ 1288 10 per cent uplift: applied.

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