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Case Study: Strangulation and Trauma While Working at a Facility for Mentally Disabled Adults
Mrs P was awarded £17,500
JMW has helped a woman to secure £17,500 compensation after she was strangled by a service user at a facility for mentally disabled adults.
Mrs P, a support worker, was working with a service user at a facility for mentally disabled adults. She was attacked by a service user at the facility, who strangled her, causing damage to her vocal cords and exacerbated a pre-existing vocal condition.
Mrs P made a claim against her employers and was put in touch with JMW Solicitors, where she dealt with Ian Johnston, Trainee Solicitor, and Jason Harwood, Partner. Both used their experience to provide Mrs P with advice in a challenging case.
Ian initially handled Mrs P’s case, and sent a letter of claim to her employers. The letter was passed to their insurers who denied their liability in the matter. Ian examined Mrs P’s case and looked at its key factors, including:
- Her pre-existing vocal condition, spasmodic dysphonia (a voice disorder characterised by vocal cord muscle spasms during speech).
- The employer’s duty of care to Mrs P.
- Whether Mrs P was adequately trained to deal with aggressive service users, as Mrs P’s employers argued.
Ian began to work to convince the insurers to change their position. He argued that:
- Mrs P had repeatedly advised her supervisor that her medical condition stopped her from following the facility’s policy; to resolve situations vocally.
- Mrs P had not received training to assist her with physically resolving situations.
- The service user had a record of violent tendencies, and had attacked another member of staff two weeks prior to attacking Mrs P.
The employer’s insurer requested Mrs P’s medical records and an occupational health assessment. Both documents suggested that Mrs P’s medical condition stopped her from properly protecting herself. The insurer then decided to admit liability, subject to proof that Mrs P’s injuries were because of her employer’s negligence.
Arranging a settlement
Ian arranged for Mrs P to be assessed by a General Consultant Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon. He also put together a Schedule of Loss; a document outlining all the losses Mrs P had experienced as a result of her accident, and therefore what she was entitled to claim for.
The medical expert confirmed that the attack on Mrs P had aggravated her pre-existing condition. He also recommended further examination by a vocal disorder specialist and further treatment from the ear, nose and throat hospital.
After Ian disclosed the medical report to the insurer, they made an offer to settle. Ian felt this offer was too low and after much consideration, it was decided to transfer Mrs P’s case to Jason Harwood to continue negotiation with the insurer.
On Jason’s advice, Mrs P rejected the offer. Mrs P’s employers then instructed a solicitor, who made an increased settlement offer.
Jason advised Mrs P that until the vocal expert examined her and produced a more specialised report, it was difficult to work out whether her case would be worth more or less than the offer.
After consideration, Mrs P chose to accept the offer without being examined by the vocal expert. She has been grateful to both Jason and Ian for their assistance in what proved to be a difficult time. Jason and Ian were delighted to have been able to support her and ensure that she was compensated for her accident.