Those who claim compensation following an accident must be prepared to have their evidence robustly challenged in court. A case on point concerned a man who was struck on the back by a heavy scaffolding pole at work.
The welder and fabricator was bent over on all fours when the pole, which probably weighed more than 25 kg, hit him. Although he suffered no broken bones or other identifiable trauma, he said that he had been stricken by serious back pain ever since. He claimed that all areas of his life were affected, including his capacity for manual work, and that he was in need of continuing care and assistance.
After he launched proceedings, a scaffolding company admitted liability for the accident. However, it disputed the extent of his disabilities and their effect on his capacity to work and look after himself. Amongst other evidence, the company relied on covertly shot video footage that was said to show him going about his life in an apparently pain-free manner.
Ruling on the case, a judge acknowledged that the accident must have been a very painful and frightening experience. There was no doubt that the man had suffered both injury and pain for which he stood to be compensated. The extent of his ongoing pain was, however, some way short of the level he claimed.
Although he was psychologically vulnerable and endured pain that was at times very uncomfortable, the judge found that it had not kept him out of the employment market for more than six months. He had pre-existing back problems and the scarcity of work in his specialist field meant that he had not suffered any loss of earnings during that period.
Given a dearth of evidence, the judge also declined to make an award for care and assistance that the man was said to have received during the accident's aftermath. Together with miscellaneous expenses, he was awarded £7,000 in general damages and a further £10,000 for the psychological suffering and pain he endured.