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Air-Conditioning Engineer Compensated for Manual Handling Back Injury

30 November 2015

worker installing air conditioner

Slater and Gordon PI solicitor Matthew Tomlinson, secured compensation for an engineer who injured his back whilst carrying an air conditioning unit.

Slater and Gordon Solicitor: Matthew Tomlinson is a senior personal injury solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Sheffield.

Settlement Value: £11,718 less a 50 per cent deduction for contributory negligence giving a net payment of £5,859.

What Happened: The client was employed by the defendant as a Quality Supervisor and Air Conditioning Engineer.

Whilst performing work on behalf of the defendant on an air conditioning system at a customer’s shop premises, the condenser unit on the external wall of the premises needed to be removed and replaced.

The unit weighed approximately 64kgs and was mounted on brackets three metres above the ground. The client was provided with ladders to access the unit but no lifting equipment. Whilst stood on the ladder, he lifted the unit off the brackets onto his shoulder but as he made his way down the ladder with the unit on his shoulder he suffered an injury to his lower back.

Impact: Liability was robustly denied. The defendant argued that the client was an experienced and qualified supervisor. They stated that he was responsible for risk assessments and site inspections and was essentially second in command supervising other employees whilst on site. They argued that he was experienced, trained and knew not to carry out work that put himself in danger. They also raised issues in terms of the accident date and the accident location given that the injury was not reported immediately.

How Slater and Gordon Helped: Despite the robust denial of liability, Slater and Gordon obtained medical evidence in support of the client’s claim, calculated his accident-related financial losses and commenced county court proceedings.

At no point in the proceedings did the defendant make any settlement proposals. The matter was therefore listed for trial. The client was advised of the process throughout and that he had responsible prospects of establishing primary liability at trial.

Decision: The trial judge agreed that the defendant had breached their duty of care owed to the client. The judge found the client to be a reliable and credible historian.

However, she felt that despite the finding of primary liability, contributory negligence had to be attached on the basis that he could have postponed the job that day given the lack of lifting equipment provided. She said that instead, he chose to continue to carry out the work. A finding of 50 per cent contributory negligence was made.

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