A keen horse rider who damaged her knee as she worked in an express train buffet car has been awarded more than £5,000 in compensation.

RMT member Olwen Hernanz-Lloyd was awarded the accident compensation by Newcastle County Court after a faulty drawer in the buffet car of the Great North Eastern Railways’ (GNER) Newcastle to London train flew open and struck her knee.

The court found that the catch on the drawer was broken and train operator GNER had failed to mend it.

The accident happened as Olwen was pouring coffee for a customer and the train ran over the points making the carriage jolt.

Despite the pain in her knee, Olwen, 46, from Backworth in Newcastle continued her work that day as a customer services representative which included working in the train’s restaurant.

She has since left GNER and now works for another employer in a role where she does not need to use her knee as much.

Still receiving physiotherapy after injury

A year after the accident she is still receiving physiotherapy and suffers from pain when she is riding.

Following the accident she contacted her union the RMT which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation.

The case went to trial where GNER claimed that the drawer had been inspected and wasn’t broken. It was later found the drawer had not been inspected and the judge said that the drawer flew open due to a defect in the catch.

Olwen received £5,124 in compensation and £18,000 costs were awarded.

Olwen said: “I’m pleased the court has found in my favour. I felt strongly about fighting my case because GNER were blaming me for the accident. I now feel vindicated. The compensation will help to pay towards the upkeep of my horses which has been much harder for me to cope with since the accident.”

Bob Crow general secretary of the RMT said: “It was a matter of principle that we fought this case on behalf of Mrs Hernanz-Lloyd. GNER failed to accept it was responsible for this accident and blamed Mrs Hernanz-Lloyd for its mistakes. This case shows how union legal services can fight for and win justice on behalf of our members.”

Tony Scott from Thompsons Solicitors added: “We are pleased to have supported Mrs Hernanz-Lloyd and the RMT through this claim. We knew we had a strong case from the beginning and the court agreed with us. We hope this compensation will help Mrs Hernanz-Lloyd cope with the difficulties she now faces as a result of her injury.”