Woman ‘Feared For Her Life’ During Terrifying Security Barrier Ordeal
A woman who suffered a ‘terrifying’ ordeal when she was trapped and crushed in ticket barriers at London’s Waterloo station has received a four-figure settlement after successful legal action and has called for improved safety measures to ensure staff act quickly if barriers malfunction in the future.
Karen O’Brien, from Twickenham, Middlesex was walking through pedestrian security barriers at the station in April 2012 when the gates malfunctioned and suddenly closed on her without warning, despite sensors being in place to ensure passengers are allowed to walk through the gates without them closing.
The barriers crushed her torso and caused damage to her ribs and she feared for her life as the gates showed no signs of opening. Her husband, who was travelling with her, managed to alert a member of staff who was able to open the barriers.
The 64-year-old instructed specialist personal injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the incident and secure funds to help her cover the costs of assistance and care she needed after the incident.
Specialist lawyers at the firm have now secured Mrs O’Brien a four-figure out of court settlement after Network Rail Infrastructure admitted liability. The money will help with her recovery and to cover her pain and suffering, as well as the on-going psychological impact of the incident, which left her fearful of becoming trapped.
The entrapment phobia, a reactive condition she developed, and the pain she was suffering as a result of the incident significantly impacted on her social life and left her unable to enjoy pre-booked holidays and other activities.
The incident also aggravated a pre-existing respiratory condition and Mrs O’Brien has experienced breathing difficulties more frequently since the incident took place, as well as struggling to sleep.
Expert OpinionThis incident has understandably had quite an impact on Mrs O’Brien from both a physical and psychological point of view.
"The feeling of being out of control and trapped in the security barriers was both painful and terrifying for Karen, who feared the barriers would not stop closing on her, and we are delighted to have secured a settlement for her to cover her pain and suffering, as well as covering the cost of the care and assistance she needed after the incident.
"Hopefully, lessons can be learned from this event and the subsequent report, which recommended a more proactive approach from Customer Service Assistants in advising passengers to use wide gates wherever necessary so nobody else will have to go through the same thing as Mrs O’Brien." Louise Scott - Solicitor
Karen said: “I felt absolutely helpless and feared for my life when the barriers closed on me as it all happened so fast and without any warning whatsoever and they showed no sign of stopping or opening.
“The incident has had a huge impact on my life and I have developed a phobia of being trapped, which has ruined my social life as I can no longer enjoy going on holiday as I fear being enclosed. I also have regular nightmares and flashbacks about the incident.
“I’m extremely relieved that I can start to put the incident behind me thanks to the settlement. I hope that my case highlights the need for staff to be aware of the needs of passengers and to be in a position to act quickly should a gate error occur in the future.”
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