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Policewoman sues DIY giant Wickes over Storm Hannah accident
23 Oct 2019

A policewoman is suing DIY giant Wickes after she was knocked unconscious by flying shelving and forced onto long-term sick leave.

West Midlands police officer Samantha Jones was struck from behind by the heavy wooden shelving after it was blown down from a height of three metres during Storm Hannah at a Wickes’ store in Coventry in April.

The 37-year-old mother-of-two, who has been with the force for 18 years, has been off work since, suffering from neck, shoulder, knee, hip and back injuries as well as severe migraines which leaves her bed-bound up to three times a week.

She is now taking legal action with the support of leading Midlands law firm FBC Manby Bowdler.

Samantha, of Coventry, said Wickes should have made sure the wooden shelves at its Radford Road store were properly secured to its steel racking or closed the outside area altogether during the storm, which saw winds reach 80mph around the country and the Met Office issue a yellow weather warning.

“My accident was entirely foreseeable and I am extremely angry with Wickes for what happened,” she said. “In this day and age of everybody being aware of health and safety they should have either closed that area off or ensured the shelving was firmly fastened down.”

Samantha said she was hit by a 3ft by 3ft piece of wood on the back of the head, knocking her out and sending her to the ground. Her partner Michael helped care for her before an ambulance arrived.

“Michael says that I was unconscious for one or two minutes and the ambulance crew who came said if the wood had hit me side on instead of flat against the head I would have been killed.

“The impact damaged my neck, and I landed on my left side which is where I injured my hip, elbow, knee, back and suffered facial and head injuries. The doctors say my knee needs an MRI scan because I have hyperextension and I still have a lot of pain in my neck and back which I am receiving treatment for.

“I am suffering with severe migraines, which I never had before. I have these as often as three times a week, and when I do, I have to take to my bed due to being physically ill and the medication to prevent them.

“Before the accident I was active, but now I have to rely on others to do certain tasks for me. I find it horribly frustrating that I struggle to do day-to-day activities such as housework and I find it really difficult to have to ask for help all the time.”

Keen rider Samantha has had to sell her horse because of the accident and been forced to give up playing badminton and going to the gym, and has to rely upon others to take her children to their out-of-school activities such as rugby and football practice. 

Samantha was hoping to return to frontline policing after moving to an office job but says those hopes have been dashed by the accident. 

Solicitor Adam Wilson, of Midlands law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, said Wickes had a clear duty of care to Samantha on the day of the accident.

“We say that the accident was entirely preventable and that Wickes has failed in its duty of care by allowing Samantha and Michael to enter an area which was clearly not safe.

“There was debris flying around the outside area and it should have been obvious to the store management that customers were being endangered by being allowed to go outside.”

Samantha, who is also being supported by the Police Federation, is seeking compensation for her injuries and also for loss of income, he said.

Meet Adam Wilson