In this case, the claimant was injured whilst working at a large shop in Ipswich, Suffolk. An altercation involving a customer had led to one of the claimant’s colleagues running across the store to intervene. However, in running across the store, that colleague collided into the claimant at speed, knocking them to the ground and causing injury.
The claimant instructed us and a claim was submitted against the shop under the long-established principle of vicarious liability – that an employer will be liable for injury or loss caused by the negligent actions (or omissions) of its workers performed during the course of their employment.
Disappointingly, the shop’s insurance company denied liability for the accident. They blamed the claimant for having put herself in harms way by approaching the customer, even though the accident was not caused by the customer but by the recklessness of her colleague who chose to sprint across the store and failed to heed the claimant’s presence.
After making further arguments to the insurer, liability was admitted but they still alleged that the claimant was 50% at fault for failing to comply with their guidance on dealing with difficult customers. That guidance was ambiguous at best and, in any event, the claimant had not in anyway contravened that guidance.
Therefore, court proceedings were issued and we were able to obtain supportive witness evidence from another of the claimant’s colleagues who confirmed that the claimant had done nothing wrong.
Expert evidence confirming the injuries sustained was obtained and disclosed and the defendant’s insurer finally agreed to pay full compensation to the claimant without any deductions.
This is yet another example of how insurers will usually try to avoid liability, even in cases which appear very straightforward at the outset. At a time when insurers are increasingly calling for the government to remove the right for successful claimants to recover ANY legal costs (making it unviable for claimants to even instruct a lawyer), it is more important than ever for claimant lawyers to try and make the public realise how the insurers and government are reforming the civil justice system to make it harder and harder for the poorer and more vulnerable in society to access justice.
Unfortunately, the majority will not realise this until it is too late, when they try to instruct a lawyer after further reforms have been brought in to require them to pay their lawyers in full out of their compensation. That will make the vast majority of claims (those worth under £10,000) economically unviable and claimants will either have to drop their case or represent themselves at Court against fully loaded insurers and their barristers.