Sally* sought the RCN’s help after a workplace injury left her unable to return to the job she loved
“I’m currently unemployed but until I was injured at work I was a unit manager in the independent sector,” says Sally. “On the day I was injured I’d answered a buzzer in the shower room – a man needed his dressing changed. But as I turned around to put rubbish in the bin, I slipped on what was meant to be a non-slip floor.
“I couldn’t move. I had a bad back anyway so I called for help and the physiotherapist got me into a wheelchair. Initially I didn’t think it was too bad, but then the pain got worse so I went to A&E where it was confirmed I had a lower back injury.
“I went on sick leave and before long I found myself on a lower rate of pay. Then I was called into a work meeting where I was told there was no longer a suitable position for me.”
Sally, who had been a member of the RCN for 10 years at this point, had seen leaflets about the legal help the RCN offers. She recalls: “I telephoned the regional office who passed my information onto RCN Law. From then on everything was done by telephone or email, and I reached a settlement with my former employer.
“Two and a half years on I’m still in pain. I keep trying to go back to work but I’m either over-qualified or don’t have the relevant experience. So if you ever find yourself in my situation get in touch with the RCN straight away. I never wanted to make a claim but it feels like I’ve lost everything so there really was no choice.”
Redresssing the balance
Victoria Peal, RCN Head of Legal (Commercial), urges members who’ve been injured at work to get in touch without delay.
“Most people don’t like to make a fuss so asking for legal help and representation may seem daunting,” she says. “But if you’ve lost out, all you’re doing is seeking to redress the balance. Sally didn’t want to call in the lawyers but she absolutely did the right thing.
“She needed an MRI scan and eight sessions of physiotherapy. She also incurred significant loss of earnings right at the time when she was facing extra medical expenses and having to pay fares for travelling to appointments. RCN Law ensured all these were recovered as part of her claim.
“The employer actually replaced the flooring just a few weeks after the accident happened but they initially denied liability. This is where having experienced lawyers on your side can really help. The team at RCN Law ensured everything was investigated thoroughly and then the employer changed their stance. With the evidence they gathered, Sally was able to accept an offer to settle out of court.”
RCN members in England and Wales can get legal advice and representation for injuries sustained at work or outside work, including assault, stress, lifting and handling, and road traffic accidents.
Members in Scotland and Northern Ireland can also make claims for work-related injuries. Their cases are handled by the RCN’s panel of solicitors in those countries.
The service is free for members, regardless of whether your claim is successful. But strict deadlines apply in all cases so if you think you may need to make a claim, get in touch straight away.
*The member’s name has been changed.