Many people who carry out dangerous duties as part of their daily workplace activities are aware that such activities come with a risk. They accept that the risk is part of the job in question and rely upon their own training together with the duty of care their employer has to keep them safe.
However, there are other circumstances where an accident happens which could have been avoided. The employee in question receives an injury as a result and it is found that the employer is to blame as they did not take adequate care of their employees’ needs or welfare.
When these incidents occur and the person injured was not responsible for the injuries which befell them, UK law provides that they may seek compensation from the responsible party. This may be their employer, a colleague or a third party, depending on the specific circumstances.
Blackwater Law are specialists in accident at work claims and as such have seen a variety of claims being made for falls, trips, slips, burns and cuts – all of which are common place in the workplace but should and can – in many events – be avoided.
However, occasionally there are accidents which are unusual, unique and make headlines.
One such accident was that which befell actor David Birrell who was blinded in one eye as he took part in an on stage duel and as a result has won substantial damages from the theatre where he was performing.
Prior to his accident, Mr Birrell had been a stage actor for some time. He had appeared in numerous productions both in London and in travelling shows. These included a starring role in the Sondheim musical “Sweeney Todd” for which he was critically acclaimed.
Mr Birrell who is now 47 was performing in a production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Passion at the Donmar Warehouse in London when his accident happened. He was using a revolver which should have been filled with blank cartridges as part of a set piece and when the prop misfired, he lost the sight in his right eye.
All performances were cancelled in the wake of his accident as he recovered and the theatre carried out an investigation.
Although Mr Birrell has now returned to work, he and his lawyers’ successfully brought about a claim whereby they sought £250,000 for the fact that his injury had left him at “a disadvantage on the labour market”.
In the papers which were lodged with the High Court, Mr Birrell submitted evidence that his eye had been left “shrunken and unsightly” and that he was now forced to wear a “cosmetic shell” which disguised the damage caused. They also highlighted “scarring and distortion”.
Although the amount of compensation which Mr Birrell has received has not been formally disclosed, it is known that he had sought damages of £250,000 for both his physical injuries and the psychological damage his accident has caused him, for which he has received counselling.