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Case Study

Netherne Management Ltd agree to pay £125,000 following accident at work

Mark Bowman acted for John in a personal injury claim against his employer, Netherne Management Limited (NML). John was employed as the Facilities Manager by NML. On 01 March 2011 he sustained an injury, badly twisting his left knee whilst performing manual labour at work. Subsequently John was signed off from work and required surgery to his knee on 17 November 2011. Following surgery John developed various complications which have led to him suffering devastating injuries. He is now unable to work and is wheelchair dependent.

John had first started to work for NML in July 2008. In the period from July 2008 to March 2011 John had frequently raised concerns about the lack of suitable equipment that he was provided with in order to complete his tasks. As Facilities Manager he was responsible for maintenance of the NML grounds, facilities and premises, which spread over 72 hectares. In the lead up to March 2011, NML insisted that John undertake additional work which was not initially envisaged or provided for at the time he entered into his contract. John requested that additional machinery be provided to enable him to complete the additional tasks, but NML refused to provide this, in particular a multi-purpose tractor. Instead, John was left to work with a trailer which was to be attached to a standard ride-on lawn mower. The trailer which he was provided with was completely unfit for purpose as it could only carry a limited load and had a faulty tipping mechanism, meaning loads had to be removed by hand using a shovel from the trailer.

On 01 March 2011, John had loaded a large number of woodchips onto the trailer before using the lawn mower to transport the woodchips to the part of the grounds where they were to be deposited. Due to the layout of this part of the grounds and the equipment provided, the only way to unload the woodchips was for John to remove them by hand by shoveling them from the trailer. This involved twisting and turning movements in muddy conditions, and in an awkward posture due to the fact that the woodchips had to be shoveled through the aperture created between the dropped solid side and the hinged mesh side of the trailer and over the box hedge. Whilst shoveling the woodchips from the trailer, John twisted his knee and suffered injury.

Instructions were received from John who maintained that with appropriate equipment he would not have had to work in such a way and would have avoided his injuries. Expert advice was sought from an engineering expert who confirmed that in his opinion the equipment provided was faulty and unsuitable. In spite of this, NML continued to deny liability and instead argued that John was entirely responsible for his own actions.

In an attempt to secure a favourable settlement for John, negotiations were commenced with NML after joint expert discussions. Only a matter of weeks before trial, NML agreed to pay out £125,000 in spite of never admitting liability for John's injuries.

At the end of the case John said:

"In my experience, finding a great solicitor was a lottery. My personal injury case was not about fairness or about right or wrong, but about who made the better argument. A court trial was avoided and insurances exhausted, but in the end I was successful. It was no longer 'no-win-no-fee' but instead 'you-won-you-pay'. The costs were high, my award by comparison was low and I lived in a vacuum for 5 years. I would instruct Mark Bowman again, he is an excellent wordsmith and he responded at all times."