In a recent case, Justina Molloy, Partner in the Personal Injury Team, assisted by Simon Brown and Heather Petrie were instructed by the family of John Atkin.
John was employed as a driver technician, delivering equipment to the elderly, disabled and those who have undergone substantial medical operations to assist independent living. In February last year, John was delivering a stool to a lady who had recently had a leg amputated. John had been advised by his employers that the property would be unlocked and that he should enter and make himself known to the lady. John did as he was instructed however unfortunately there was a dog in the property which he and his employers were not aware of and he was bitten.
Following the bite, John returned to his work depot where he received first aid for a simple cut. He was asked whether he had an up to date tetanus vaccination which he confirmed he did.
Sadly, on 27 February 2016, four days after being bitten, John was found unresponsive, having developed staphylococcal septicaemia, and died.
Had John been advised of the risk of septicaemia and the warning signs to watch out for, he may have sought further medical assistance. If he had received antibiotics, John may not have developed septicaemia and may still be alive today.
In February 2017, we represented John’s family at the inquest into his death, throughout which we were assisted by John Schmitt of 9 Gough Square who also acted on a pro bono basis. At the inquest it transpired that his employers had not undertaken a full risk assessment of the lady’s home, believing instead that an assessment of the property would have been carried out by the NHS or Social Services who had ordered the stool on the lady’s behalf. There was also criticism of John’s employer’s staff training and health and safety procedures.
The jury returned a unanimous verdict of accidental death and the Coroner indicated her intention for a Prevention of Future Death Report to be sent to John’s employers requiring them to make improvements to their systems to ensure that there are no similar deaths in the future.
This case highlights the dangers a bite can pose and the need to quickly seek medical advice for puncture wounds – in addition to the importance of having sufficient procedures in place to ensure all risks are identified in order to safeguard employees, such as identifying the presence of dogs, and other animals, at a premises.
Families Against Corporate Killers
The McMillan Williams Injury Team are strong supporters of the work of Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) who campaign to stop workers and others being killed in preventable incidents. FACK assist families of those killed as they go through the process of an inquest at the Coroner’s Court which is where MW comes in, acting for the families on a pro bono basis to provide them with legal representation at this difficult time.
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