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Court Success: A fabricated injury claim

At a glance

  • Zurich Municipal welcomes the success of Strainys v Lee Warren Fabrication and Design (Watford County Court)
  • The claim was pleaded in negligence under the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999
  • An excellent result for our customer which suitably demonstrates our robust approach to spurious and opportunistic claims

Background

This claim arose out of an alleged accident at work suffered by the Claimant on or around 7 May 2013. The Defendant company is an architectural steel and glass fitting company. The Claimant commenced work in January 2013 (via an agency) for the Defendant company as a fitter.

The Defendant was contracted to fit a staircase at a building site at 93 Holders Hill Road, London. He claimed he had been passed a piece of external staircase to carry on to the site which weighed in excess of 100kg. The Claimant placed the same over his shoulder and as he carried it he felt immediate pain in his back.
After completion of the Holders Hill Road job, the Claimant continued working until mid-July 2013.

The law

The claim was pleaded in negligence under the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999. In particular it was stated the Defendant failed to reduce the risk of injury to the Claimant in manual handling operations to the lowest reasonable practicable level.

Legal arguments

The Claimant argued the Defendant had failed to undertake proper risk assessments and failed to provide information to the Claimant as to the risk which he was exposed to when handling the staircase.

The Defendant’s position was that this was a fabricated injury claim, no evidence of any injury having occurred on that day, no accident reported by the Claimant, that there was a detailed risk assessment for this job which provided that such lifting was to be carried out by 4 operatives and denied that he was instructed to carry out the job alone. It was also denied that he could carry a 100kg staircase on his shoulder.

Decision

The Trial of this matter took place with the Claimant giving his evidence by video link from Lithuania. The Judge initially reserved Judgment and then provided written Judgment on 9 May 2017 dismissing the Claimant’s claim.

The Judge found that the Claimant continued to work on the day of the alleged incident and thereafter he continued to work for the Defendant and did not take any time off work because of his alleged injury. There were no medical notes to support the Claimant’s evidence that he attended at Hospital on the next day.

The Claimant sought to explain the lack of a record of the incident by saying there was no-one around at the time to report the injury to, but he accepted in cross-examination that his supervisor, would have been an appropriate person to report an accident to.

The Judge found the Claimant’s evidence to be muddled, inconsistent and unreliable. The Judge was “unimpressed by the exaggeration of the claim”.

The Judge also found that the Claimant had failed to tell his employers about his pre-existing back injury which suggested a willingness to bend the truth when it suited him. The Court did not go as far to find that the Claimant was deliberately misleading the Court, but the Judge was satisfied there was no breach of duty by the Defendant. The claim was therefore dismissed.

Commentary

This is an excellent result for our customer which suitably demonstrates our robust approach to spurious and opportunistic claims.

This claim was handled by Michael Richards in our Birmingham Casualty Claims Team. Our panel solicitors DAC Beachcroft represented us at Court.

Image © Getty

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