Much has been written in recent weeks about the accident suffered by TOWIE’s Gemma Collins at the Radio 1 Teen awards. She was announcing “Love Island” as the winner of Best TV Show category when a trapdoor opened to bring the winners up on stage. Gemma did not see the trapdoor open and sadly fell down into the hole, much to her embarrassment.
The 35-year-old reportedly said: “I’ve got to consult a lawyer. The BBC, they’ve not been in touch with any compensation or anything – or even an apology.”
The Radio 1 press office said it took health and safety seriously and has issued a statement:
“The BBC takes the health and safety of everyone involved very seriously and we are awaiting a full report from Remedy – the production company who made the show – about the incident but they have told us that Gemma did receive a full briefing before going on stage.”
In cases such as this, it is hard to see how the BBC, or the production company, could avoid being liable in full or part for Gemma’s accident. There are many workplace health and safety laws, rules and regulations which are designed to keep employees or contractors safe at work.
The law as it is now allows injured people to claim legal fees in addition to compensation provided the award exceeds £1000.00. Awards below £1000 for injuries fall into the Small Claims jurisdiction where litigants have to pay their own legal fees if they win. If rumours of changes to the law are correct, that minimum figure may increase to £2000.00 (£5000 for injuries from a road traffic accident) as a minimum above which an injured claimant may claim legal fees in addition to compensation.
If it is correct that Gemma did suffer ‘just’ bruising, then that bruising would need to be fairly severe and long lasting for her to get over the current £1000.00 threshold. If her injuries were not sufficiently serious to exceed the £1000 threshold, then, if she were determined to pursue it, she would only be able to do so if she paid the legal fees herself, or found a Solicitor prepared to assist her on a contingency fee basis (where the Solicitor takes a percentage of the overall damages as their fee). If all her symptoms disappear within, say, 6 weeks, her claim will fall into the Small Claims jurisdiction so that if she instructed a solicitor, then she would probably owe more in legal fees than she would recover in damages!
Poor Gemma may need to put this one down to experience, and be grateful her injuries were not too serious. Given that her media profile has now gone stratospheric she may look back and be glad it happened. Sadly, most personal injury claimants are not so lucky.