The death following a fall of a man suffering from Parkinson's disease and dementia was caused by a minibus driver's failure to keep him under supervision at all times, a judge has ruled in ordering a local authority to pay his widow substantial compensation.
The man, aged in his sixties, was waiting to board the bus at a day care centre run by the council when the driver briefly left him unattended as he bent down to adjust the flaps of the vehicle's tail lift. While unsupervised, the man fell heavily and had to be taken to hospital, where he underwent hip replacement surgery.
He never fully recovered from the operation and, about ten weeks after the fall, he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest, triggered by a deep vein thrombosis and blockage of his lungs. The council denied blame, arguing that it was an unavoidable accident and that the fully trained driver had taken all reasonable precautions.
In upholding the widow's claim and finding that the council had breached its duty of care, the judge noted that the man was known to be very unsteady on his feet and had been assessed as requiring supervision at all times. The sequence of events which led up to his death was attributable to the fall. The amount of the widow's compensation award was kept confidential but is likely to be a six-figure sum.