Re: Mrs. Beth March
OPINION ON LIABILITY, QUANTUM OF DAMAGES AND EVIDENCE
I am asked to advise the proposed Claimant, Mrs Beth March, on the following matters:
(b) Merits of the claim;
(c) Contributory Negligence; 3
(d) Quantum for PSLA and any past or future losses.
(e) Any procedural matters arising from these instructions
(f) The issues raised by the Defendant’s solicitors.
(g) Any further information required.
Boris Hancook and Sallie Gardiner are two witnesses who have testified in this case. I have reviewed the testimonies of Mrs. March and Ms. Vaughan insurers from December 15, 2021 to January 3, 2022. I’ve also got the opportunity to see the 3 January 2022 medical report from the Spire Private Hospital. This knowledge has led me to make an opinion, which I’ll share with you now. At the conclusion of my opinion, I have included the additional material and evidence that I believe my Instructing Solicitors should have access to at this time.
Mrs Beth March worked as waitresses at Vaughan’s restaurant on the first day of May, 2020. At some point during her shift on the evening of May 1, 2020, the Claimant was instructed to descend the lighted steps to her employer’s basement, which she did reluctantly but eventually. The stairs were made of stone, and that there was no railing to help you climb them. In the dark, the Mrs. March lost her balance and fell roughly 8 steps down the stairs. Because of this mishap, she had a fractured leg, which she reported to Sallie, a coworker who came down to assist her and phoned an ambulance after alerting Kate.
Merits of the Claim
Based on the provided information on the claim, Ms March has a solid ground that support her claim and an inclination towards her conquest in this case as the prospects are good as regarding her claim against Ms Vaughan (the supposed owner of Vaughan Restaurant). This stage is however not appropriate for me to deliver solid conclusions as regarding the claim as well as the contributory negligence extent. There is therefore need for analysis of my opinion with further information that I will develop.
The applicable law in this case is the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, as the owner of the restaurant has a duty to care for the employees, and any harm befalling the employees resulting from the conditions of the premises, is held against the restaurant, considering the Act. Ms Vaughan is certainly the owner of the restaurant basing on the Honey Street Solicitors, which claim that Ms Vaughan is the owner of the restaurant and she is the one insured. Based on this information, then the claimant can be perceived as Mrs. March and the defendant to be Ms Vaughan. However, there is need for confirmation with the Honey Street Solicitors as regarding the matter.
According to Section 2 of the Act, Ms Vaughan owed Mrs March a responsibility to use reasonable care in all the circumstances of the case to ensure that she would be fairly safe while using the premises for the purpose for which she had been authorized to be there. At common law, the obligation due is essentially the same as the responsibility owed in a negligence case. Anyone instructing me will, without a doubt, be familiar with my attitude to issues involving minors and children.
Tripping accidents in restaurants and shops are governed by the principles set out in Ward v Tesco Stores Ltd  1 WLR 180, which states that once a claimant has established that their accident was caused by a circumstance wherein the defendant was knowledgeable or should have been aware, the onus of proving that the accident did not happen as a result of a failure to exercise rational care shifts to the defendant to demonstrate that the accident did not occur as a result of a failure to exercise reasonable.
As a first step, Mrs March will need to demonstrate that her accident was the result of an unavoidable set of circumstances even though she was not knowledgeable of. According to her testimony, Mrs. March fell due to her inability to see in the dark. Afterward, she recounts how the door to the basement automatically shut, trapping her in complete darkness and obscuring her path down the steps. She added that since there was no railing to grip onto and help her down the stairwell, she had to “nearly feel” her way to the bottom. For the purposes of convincing the court that the fall took place as stated, I believe that this evidence stands alone. In the lack of any other credible explanation for her collapse, this is especially true. As far as I can see, neither Ms. Vaughan nor the other witnesses are denying that it was dark when the incident occurred. According to both the insurance companies and eyewitness accounts, the conditions surrounding the accident were genuine and likely contributed to its occurrence.
The burden of proof shifts to Ms Vaughan to prove that this accident was not caused by her own carelessness once she has shown that she fell because of the darkness. Because she wasn’t there at the purported meeting when it was agreed that staff should bring flashlights down the stairwell, it’s possible to claim that Mrs. March could not have expected the darkness. Mrs. March claims that she fell after Ms. Vaughan instructed her to collect additional white wine bottles in the basement. We know where she fell, so if anybody can get hold of a picture or a stair plan of the restaurant and ask Mrs. March to identify where she was standing at the time of her accident, which would be useful. In her account, it seems that she was ready to take her second step down the steps when the tragedy occurred. A coworker had fallen down those same steps only a few weeks before, so she assumed that the lights would be functioning in the basement by the time she arrived.
Ms Vaughan confirmed the lighting issue, which she elaborated had tried to fix on her own by changing the bulb in the cellar room, with no success. The light had stopped working on the 2nd of March 2020. This made her call her regular electrical personnel Mr. Boris Hancook, who came by identified the problem on the 13th of March 2020 and promised to come back with solid solution for the electrical problem. But in the meantime Ms Vaughan explains the room had to remain dark, with the risk of the eight stone steps down the cellar room.
Mrs March’s accident on May 1st, 2020, seems to indicate that either Ms Vaughan or her employees/agents were aware of the potential that an employee may harm herself while going down the stairs in utter darkness. In my opinion, a court would likely accept that Ms. Vaughan delayed the electrical repairs for a few weeks, despite the fact that she was aware that this was a risk factor and that she had active workers in her firm. It would be helpful if those who are instructing me could confirm the exact dates of the previous employee’s stair accident and the promised return date of Mr. Boris Hancook, as there appears to be a gap between the time Ms Vaughan made the call on March 13th, 2020, and the time of the accident on May 1, 2020. When determining how many days had passed between the call and Mrs. March’s accident, this information would be helpful.
The actual knowledge that Ms. Vaughan knew about the actual danger she was putting her employees in by delaying to fix the lighting problem in the cellar room, can provide a strong and strengthened evidence against her, as she can be implicated by this knowledge. The time between the first time the lighting problem started and the time of Mrs. March accident can be approximated to be a month, which can be perceived as strong evidence against Ms Vaughan for the delay, and yet the restaurant was in operation the whole time. Moreover, there is evidence of a previous similar case though not as fatal as Mrs. March’s case, a couple of weeks back, and this should have been the action and warning point of the actual dangers yet to come as a result of the darkness. The fact that, this was not enough for Ms Vaughan to take an immediate action to rectify the problem is questionable and could implicate her in court.
After Sallie’s accident a couple of weeks back, Ms. Vaughan Saught a staff meeting, to inform the employees about the conditions in the cellar room, She acknowledged the danger, but did not find a satisfactory solution for the problem. Instead, she introduced a flashlight which she intended every staff member to use while going down the cellar room eight stone stars. This was not appropriate enough, as Sallie in her statement she describes how difficult it was to use a flashlight in the cellar room, going up and down the stairs while carrying things. Sallie describes how the torch was unreliable, as it mostly was misplaced and very difficult to find it while in need of it, which she actually thought that maybe some employee had hid it.
In the event that the court finds that Ms Vaughan was aware of or should have been aware of the persistent problem of the risks and dangers of the cellar room eight stone stairs, the key issue to be resolved in respect of liability in this case will be intended or unintended and to what degree Ms Vaughan had in place adequate steps to make sure the guidelines in place of her staff members in the restaurant, and the magnitude to which any of that kind steps were in place and/or enforced on the date of the accident.
I believe that Ms Vaughan insurance forgot to submit any documentation with their answer to the letter of claims. I have addressed the measures that those directing me should undertake in respect to the failure to disclose expressly in the ‘procedure’ portion of my Judgment below. The absence of evidence implies that I am incapable of providing a final assessment at this time in respect to likelihood of success. However, providing that the basement room is formed out off old stone, and the design is similarly ancient, mending things in this chamber may have taken some time. As has previously been noted, Ms Vaughan assessed the chamber to be a 12 feet by 12 feet space with eight stone stair steps down the room. It is supposed that the white wine was down the steps, and there was no railing to lead down the stairs.
It is possible that Ms. Vaughan should have taken further precautions to assure the guidelines in place of Mrs. March, such as an appropriate maintenance and inspection system. Mrs. March said in her statement that there had been no notice and she expected that the lights would have been rectified by the time she arrived. There should have been appropriate warning signs or cordons erected at the basement entrance to advise personnel of the dangers of descending the steps without any lighting, considering its nature and position.
Provided that the cellar room had already caused an previous accident before with an employee Sallie, and Ms Vaughan was well aware of the dangers of the room because of its lighting, the appropriate measure was to keep the room out of reach for the other employees, ensuring that she was the only one heading down there to get the bottle of wine, considering that Mr. Boris Hancook was delaying on the matter. Ms Vaughan should have kept the room out of reach by the employees until a time when the lighting had been fixed to prevent further damages.
According to Ms. Vaughan and her insurers, the Act’s section 2(4)(b) provides a defense against responsibility. Ms Vaughan argues that she is allowed to use this argument since she hired a skilled contractor, Mr. Boris Hancook, to fix the lights. Ms. Vaughan, despite the fact that she may have hired a contractor to do the job, I believe she is still responsible for this catastrophe. First and foremost, there is no proof in front of me at this time that she planned to replace the lights as quickly as feasible given the delayed time. Mrs March and Ms Sallie’s claims that this was a reoccurring problem and that it will happen again are right. This suggests that if Ms. Vaughan had felt the need to adjust the lighting in the subterranean area, she could have done so. As a result, it was not a new threat. If Ms Vaughan’s workers, Mrs. March and Ms Sallie, knew exactly what was wrong, then it’s safe to believe that Ms Vaughan did, too. As a result, Ms. Vaughan cannot simply free herself of accountability for the same as every outcome of her knowledge of the dangers and consequences. To sum it all up, even though the first logic fails, one may argue that, in light of the earlier basement room disaster involving Ms Sallie, a court would likely conclude that Ms Vaughan failed to take the procedures she reasonably should have taken to fulfill safety regulations and the precautions that have been taken.
Considering the evidence presented before me as regarding the case, It is clear that high chances indicate that Mrs. Beth was unaware of the cellar room circumstances, and had minimal contributions to her accident. The estimated contributory negligence for Mrs. March would not go higher than twenty percent.
The only contribution that Mrs. Beth March could have added to the occurrence of her accident, was the fact that a few weeks back after the cellar room lighting became faulty and dimmed the room dark, she was still working in the restaurant and she knew about the conditions of the room. Afterwards the risk factor of the room resulted to Sallie’s accident falling from the last two flights of the eight stone stairs, but was not fatal, and Mrs. March was acknowledged on the matter. It was also wrong for her to assume that the cellar room lightings had been fixed after the previous accident which resulted to her going down the stairs without any form of lighting, and no handrails to guide her.
From the illustration, Mrs. March was very careful while going down the stairs, only to meet the inevitable fate that broke her leg. This means that, if the conditions were better then she would have certainly managed to go down the flight of stairs successfully without any injuries. There should have been notices on the cellar room door or near it instructing on the guideline and procedures to take down the stairs, and perhaps the accident could have been avoided, if at least she knew that the cellar room required a torch to use down the stairs.
I am helped by the Duke v Dunnes Stores and Greene v Dunnes Stores case ; Court of Appeal rejected two High Court decisions that found Dunnes Stores responsible for injuries sustained by two different workers who slid on “obvious” or “conspicuous” wrapping at the shop, in Dunnes v Duke Stores and Dunnes v Greene stores. “.the obligation of an employer to their workforce is not a limitless one,” said Mr. Justice McGovern in two favorable rulings for employers. As a result, the Court of Appeal overturned the culpability rulings against the employer in these instances, but how did they do it? This is to signify that Ms. Vaughan as the employer had an obligation duty of care for all of her employees in the restaurant. Thus in the scenario where the employer dismisses her obligation of care towards the employees, and there is resulting harm, the employer is held liable for his or her mistakes. This is similar in this case scenario. Ms. Vaughan ought to have taken the situation seriously, and Ms Sannie’s accident should have been the only warning of the urgency of the matter.
Quantum for PSLA and Past and Future Losses
I have confirmed and analyzed the medical report generated by the Spire Private Hospital dated on 3rd January 2022, by the Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon of the hospital. This report indicates the health injuries that Mrs. March incurred from the accident.
X-rays were performed as soon as I arrived at the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department. Compound fracturing of the right distal tibia and fibula were discovered on X-rays. Under general anesthesia, a plate and pins were used for internal fixation and open reduction. After that, she had to have her leg immobilized in a cast for around eight weeks.
She was received a pair of crutches that were non-weight-bearing to wear till the plaster cast had been detached when she was released from the hospital after three weeks. She was in a lot of discomfort for a long period after that. She had difficulty moving around and needed assistance with daily activities such as getting dressed, using the restroom, and doing domestic tasks.
She was forced to use an orthopedic stick for mobility as a result. In order to manage her discomfort, Mrs. March was given a powerful painkiller, which she took every day.
After the plaster cast was removed, she began going to the CHU’s physiotherapy department 3 times per week 2 months before switching to a personal physiotherapist and eventually lowering her appointments to the present level with one hour per month. It was removed on November 20th, 2020, and no more surgeries are expected to be performed.
Doctors have effectively treated Mrs. March’s right distal tibia and fibula fractures. There was a high amount of pain that Mrs. March experienced for six months, and she continues to experience discomfort on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the present degree of discomfort is likely to last forever, necessitating ongoing physiotherapy. With physiotherapy and starting in December 2021, Mrs. March is no longer reliant on her cane to go about. She is now able to walk on her own without the use of a walking stick.
Walking or standing for more than 20 minutes causes her symptoms to worsen. At night, it’s extremely excruciating and disrupts her sleep, she tells me. Although she was hoped to take on more clients with disabilities, Mrs. March has been forced to restrict her working hours because of her injuries and this has left her feeling frustrated. Her gym and Pilates activities have also been put on hold since she is unable to continue them.
Mrs. March also has a large scar on her leg that will never go away and that she is embarrassed about. Mrs. March, you have my utmost respect. At all times, she protects her legs.
Considering that it has become some 19 months following the tragedy, there has been no further drastic progress in Mrs. March’s condition. She is likely to require lifetime physiotherapy at the very same pace, assessment of the probability of osteoarthritis arising in the limb in ten years after the injury, as being in the range of 10 percent.
Mrs. March’s distal tibia and fibula fractures on her right leg have been successfully treated by doctors. The degree of agony that Mrs. March was experiencing over the last six months was extreme, and she continues to be in misery on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the current level of pain is likely to persist indefinitely, requiring the continued use of physiotherapy. Mrs. March will no longer be relying on her cane to go about thanks to physiotherapy, which will begin in December 2021. Now, she is able to walk independently, without the use of a walking stick.
Whilst Mrs. March has persistent symptoms, Mrs. March is not handicapped for purposes of Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and Equality Act 2010.
In my own opinion as regarding the compensation rate, considering the suffering, pain, expensive treatment, physiotherapy and the loss of amenity to range around $40,000 to $50,000. I have come to this conclusion based on information and guidelines on the classification of workplace injuries in terms of severe, moderate and casual. Considering some similar scenario and compensation;
PSLA, July 2004, Batram v Chapman The claimant was a 31-year-old guy who sustained a fracturing to the left distal tibia and fibula in this instance. Like Mrs. March, he had to undergo surgery, but his procedure was exacerbated by the fact that the nail had to be removed twice. After the procedure, he was also unable to bear weight for a total of three months, with crutches necessary for an additional four months. Three years and six months after the accident, he was in what was characterized as substantial discomfort, and this was not anticipated to alter. Mrs. March, on the other hand, has a 10% risk of developing osteoarthritis. When he was injured in the same way as Mrs. March, he was unable to continue working as a field worker, just like Mrs. March. Assuming that Mrs. March’s injuries are identical, the PSLA-like aspects of these ailments are beneficial. Any prize given to Mrs. March, in my opinion, is going to be a little underwhelming.
Future Losses and Expenses
Loss of Earnings
Mrs. March was working in the restaurant and earning a living there, managing to pay her bills, while investing in her career in physiotherapy. After the accident she was forced to stay home and heal, and lost a considerable amount of time which she could have invested elsewhere to make her own future. Instead the injuries from the accident left her with difficulty in walking, unable to return to her normal job at the restaurant, and she was forced to reduce the hours she worked as physiotherapy. All these challenges have reduced her efficiency and income level as a hardworking citizen.
Issues Raised by the Defendant Solicitors
The Honey Street Solicitors are in demand of the workplace accident book entry which Mrs. Beth March managed to complete before being taken to the hospital. This was inform of a letter written on 1st July 2021 The ideology is that, the entry will capacitate the solicitor to determine the actual events and details as regarding the accident, which will allow for a strategic plan as regarding the legal decisions for the client Mrs. Beth March.
The defendant solicitor BSS LLP responded to the demand, as regarding the Honey Street Solicitor client Mrs. Beth March. The solicitor confirmed and approved that the information about the entry document completion was indeed true, as confirmed by their client Ms Vaughan. However BSS LLP declined to oblige as regarding the demand matter, and responded by informing that the document could be released as it subject to legal professional privilege. Furthermore, and regardless of the circumstances, this document only has to be revealed and made available for examination when formal proceedings have been filed a previous disclosure is not required.
Further Information required
From the evidence and information present, there is need to obtain specific documents and information to compliment the case’s accuracy and precision.
As regarding liability, the correct identities of the claimant and the defendants should be established. This can be confirmed through the solicitors who have the right information about their client and the correct information about the restaurants insurance, and the actual owner of the restaurant. I have assumed that the restaurant is automatically owned by Ms, Vaughan, but this needs to be verified for precision.
The actual cellar room design, blue prints, photographs and structuring should be brought forth, to allow for solid imagination and accuracy of the actual location of the accident, and the involved risk factors.
A witness statement of the medical personnel that arrived with the ambulance to rescue Mrs. Beth March should be captured, to describe the actual situation in which they found Mrs. March in the cellar room. They will also be of help, to describe the structuring of the room, organization, and the actual lighting circumstances which they found the cellar room in.
The Honey Street Solicitor on behalf of their client Mrs. Beth March and the BSS LLP on behalf of Ms. Vaughan should look into the following;
The solicitors should seek the actual documentation that prove and show evidence on actual losses of income as regarding Mrs. Beth March. This include the treatment bills in the hospital, the physiological sessions receipts, actual proof of reduced income for Mrs. March for reduction in the number of hours in her physiological career.
Based on the evidence presented before me as regarding the case, the logics speak for themselves, and I believe that Ms. Vaughan’s contributory negligence is going to implicate her, giving Mrs. Beth March a chance at having her way in court. The prospects are in favor of Mrs. March, as the accident was considerably out of her hands, and hugely lay upon the hand of the Vaughan Restaurant owner Ms. Vaughan.
Mrs. Beth certainly experienced a lot of damages, resulting from the accident, in terms of hospital bills, health damage, and loss of time, loss of earning and psychological damage. I estimate the total damage owed to Mrs. Beth to range between $40,000-50,000. Based on the fact that I estimated Mrs. Beth March’s contribution negligence to be less than 20%, the deduction from the total damage owed to her is likely to be minimal.
I have done my analysis of the case presented before me, and I surely hope that my analysis and opinion is going to be useful to my instructing solicitors as regarding the case. I also wish to inform that, in any case I’m needed for a discussion of this case, then I’m available at anytime. Feel free to reach me via my email address; email@example.com