£18,000 for hip injury after tripping into pothole

The Claimant , a schoolgirl, aged 11 at the date of the accident and 16 at the child settlement approval hearing,  stepped into a pot hole with her left foot. She tripped and fell onto the anterior aspect of her left knee, sustaining a hip injury.

Assessment of the injury

The staff in A & E considered that she had injured her left knee, and a support bandage and pain killers were provided. The pain in and around her left leg and hip carried on and disturbed her sleep. She was unable to stand on her left leg

Two weeks later she returned to hospital because she was still in pain. She was reluctant to stand on her left leg and hip. Further tests identified that her left hip was externally rotated, and she was unable to flex her hip past 30 degrees. She was also unable to stand up evenly from a sitting position.

A diagnosis of left slipped upper femoral epiphysis was made. One had surgery to her left hip to insert an ASNIS screw to hold the femoral head in place .

The Claimant was immobilised and had to use a wheelchair.  She could not stand on her left leg for 6 weeks. X-rays taken after eight weeks revealed no evidence of a similar slip on the right side. By this time she was starting to weight bear and had an intense course of physiotherapy.

She was absent from school for three months. On her return she was unable to undertake PE.

Allegation

It was alleged that the Defendant was negligent under their occupier's liability insofar as they failed to maintain their premises to a sufficiently high standard to prevent accidental injury to persons walking there.

The Claimant alleged that she had suffered from a slipped upper femoral epiphysis due to the Defendant's negligence. Six months after the accident it was noted at a final review that T's leg lengths were equal and she had no significant deformity.

On examination at 22 months T reported that her left hip still hurt, particularly in the front and side region of her left hip. Her hip hurt in cold weather, and when she walked.

The Claimant's parents noticed that she struggled to walk up hills. The pain woke her regularly and she described being awake for "ages". Sometimes she took pain relief.

The Claimant's parents reported that she walked with a slight limp of a variable degree of severity. Physical examination showed a reduced range of movement in her left hip. Her gait pattern was normal and she was able to walk at a normal pace on a flat carpeted surface. She was able to crouch and rise from a crouched position. There was a small area of scarring on the front and side aspect of her left thigh. The medical expert advised that the SCFE and the left proximal femoral epiphysiodesis had produced a shortening of T's left lower limb. On examination the shortening was 1cm. The medical expert advised that the differential would increase as the Claimant grew.

After 4 years and 7 months the Claimant reported that her left hip still ached after walking around town for an afternoon and resolved after one hour's rest. She advised that her left hip hurt when she walked uphill and the pain was worse in cold weather. She had returned to some light PE at school.

The medical expert measured a 17mm shortening of her left lower limb. He concluded that the range of motion in her left hip would not improve further.

Nonetheless, she was considered to have normal function for personal and domestic living. Heavier manual occupations were not advisable.
The medical expert advised that the Claimant's residual left hip symptoms were considered permanent. There was a risk that over time she would compensate for her leg length discrepancy and a gait test was recommended at a later date.

Formal corrective surgery was not advised, although a shoe raise was recommended. The expert advised that there was a risk that the Claimant's hip would become arthritic at some time during the next 30 years.

Settlement and conclusion

The matter progressed to a Court hearing. Compensation of £18,000 was awarded at Birmingham County Court for  "pain, suffering and loss of amenity".