MOD member wins injury compensation thanks to PCS and Thompsons

28 Nov 2018

A PCS Ministry of Defence member who fractured his wrist when opening a security door at the British Embassy in Washington DC, has been awarded compensation following support from PCS and Thompsons Solicitors.

Nicholas Callow fractured his wrist while working as an information officer at the embassy. He did not know the door was blocked by a ladder on the other side and stopped abruptly when he tried to push it open, painfully jarring his wrist and causing a fracture.

Six years on, Nicholas still experiences significant pain and has been diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome – a condition so painful it means he can’t even hold his wife’s hand. In addition, Nicholas's mental health continues to be affected.

Legal ruling

Thompsons Solicitors issued proceedings on Nicholas’ behalf from the UK, but the defendants, the Ministry of Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, argued that English law was not applicable and challenged the case. This would have meant that he would secure less compensation than he was entitled to if his case was heard under English law.

Escape rule

Thompsons Solicitors successfully argued using the ‘escape rule’ that the harm suffered by Nicholas was more closely connected to England than it was to the District of Columbia, even though the accident had taken place overseas. Numerous reasons were provided in support of this close connection, such as Nicholas was employed under a contract of employment entered into in England. The terms of the contract implied that English health and safety standards would be adhered to as far as possible while staff were engaged in work overseas and it was ultimately the organisation located in England that had the final say over such health and safety issues. 

It meant Nicholas could pursue a compensation claim for his injury under English law and was able to secure a level of compensation that is reflective of the pain and suffering his accident caused. His case has now been successfully concluded and based on the medical evidence and details of financial losses sustained, a satisfactory settlement has been reached agreed with the other side. 

He described PCS and Thompsons as “a pillar of strength for my wife and me. Especially given the complexity of the claim, the legal expertise provided by Thompsons, was exemplary. While this settlement will not change the last 6 years, I am taking comfort that from the successful argument by Thompsons Solicitors of the ‘escape rule’ that if any civil servant is unfortunate enough to have an accident overseas and wish to pursue a compensation claim, they can do so knowing that English law will be applicable ”.

Cases such as this underline the value of the union’s legal service. It also shows that the union is prepared to take cases that claim companies and no win/no fee solicitors will not.

Each year the PCS personal injury compensation claim scheme recovers millions of pounds in compensation for members.

All PCS members and their partners have access to the union's free personal injury service, provided the accident or injury has occurred in the UK or within UK jurisdiction. The scheme also extends to other family members where the accident or injury has occurred outside of work or the family member is a victim of medical negligence.

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