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PI and Civil Litigation

Law - practice - procedure

17 MAR 2014

Mark Webley (A protected party by his son & litigation friend Karl Webley) v (1) St Georges Hospital NHS Trust (2) Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2014] EWHC 299 (QB); (2014) APIL 022

Mark Webley (A protected party by his son & litigation friend Karl Webley) v (1) St Georges Hospital NHS Trust (2) Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2014] EWHC 299 (QB); (2014) APIL 022
Summary
The first defendant was found liable for the claimant's accident after he left the hospital unit in which he was receiving treatment and fell sustaining serious head injuries.
14 February 2014
High Court (Queen's Bench Division)
Bean J
Police attended a disturbance at the claimant's residence and took him into custody. The claimant was mentally ill and was later transferred to hospital. At hospital the claimant ran out from the ward in which he was being treated and climbed over some low railings outside. He fell from a ledge, down some 15 feet to the ground below and suffered serious head injuries.
The claimant alleged that the first defendant was negligent as the two security guards entrusted with his care failed to ensure his reasonable safety. In addition the claimant alleged that the second defendant was negligent for not properly briefing the first defendant about the risk of him escaping at the time the claimant was transferred to hospital.
The case against the second defendant was dismissed as the court was satisfied that the police had made clear to the first defendant that the claimant was a high risk patient and likely to abscond.
The court considered a range of arguments from the claimant in determining liability as against the first defendant. Agreeing with many of them, the court held that A&E is an unsecured environment so security staff must be extra vigilant and the claimant ought to have been actively guarded rather than just observed by the security team.
Further, the objective of using minimal restraint must be balanced with the risk of escape, particularly when the hospital had been properly briefed on the claimant's condition and the high risk of him absconding. All issues considered the court awarded judgment for the claimant, without any question of contributory fault. Damages were to be assessed if not agreed in due course.
Comment
It was fair, just and reasonable that the defendant in this case was found responsible for the claimant's terrible accident. The claimant had, due to his mental health issues, no awareness of danger and could not therefore take care of himself.

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