A street cleaner has been awarded compensation by the courts after a Newsagent left trade waste in a public bin causing her to fall and seriously injure her shoulder and neck.

The woman from Bedfordshire was cleaning outside shop fronts in Luton in January 2004 when her feet became entangled on plastic newspaper strapping which had been dumped in a public rubbish bin.

She fell heavily on her left side causing her to suffer soft tissue damage to her neck and shoulder.

As a result of the accident she had to take 15 months off work. She has returned to work but now drives a street sweeper due to limitations caused by her injuries.

Waiting for surgery as a result of accident

She is waiting for surgery to mend her shoulder, which is so painful it also prevents her from enjoying her hobbies of horse riding and bowling.

Following the accident she contacted her trade union, the GMB, for advice which instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

Thompsons discovered the strapping had been put in the bin by employees of a newsagent which denied leaving the strapping in the bin. At trial Luton County Court heard that the firm had been reported for dumping trade waste in public bins two years prior to the accident and had not bought trade waste bin bags from the council for 27 months.

Following a two day trial to determine if the newsagent was liable for the accident, the court found that the newsagent was liable. The newsagent’s insurers later settled the claim out of court for £57,000 prior a second court hearing which would have been to determine the amount of compensation that should be awarded.

More than a year off work after the accident

The council employee said: ”I had to take more than a year off work due to the lack of concern for others shown by the newsagents and more than seven years on, I’m still in a lot of pain. I am hoping that surgery will improve my shoulder but my life is already very different, my work has changed and I can’t do what I used to as hobbies.”

Paul Hayes, GMB Regional Secretary said: “This member only got justice because she is a member of the GMB which retained and paid for the services of a top class solicitor.

“This newsagent spent two years getting away with placing trade waste into public bins. It’s a wonder that an accident of this type didn’t happen sooner. It is unfair that a hard working woman has had to pay the price for their failings.”

Kam Singh from Thompsons Solicitors added: “The newsagent dragged this case through the courts. Fortunately, with the local council’s support, we were able to prove that they had been dumping their rubbish in public bins when all other traders safely disposed of theirs in sacks provided.