Paraplegic Awarded Compensation for Theatre Fall

Compensation has been awarded to a woman who fell through an open stage door in a dark theatre, leaving her paraplegic.

In June 2012, Rachael Presdee (38) was working as a stage manager for a production of “Boy’s”, run by the Headlong Theatre Company is the Soho Theatre in London’s West End. While she was working one night, she arrived to the theatre to find that all of the lights were off. In an attempt to locate a theatre employee to turn the lights back on, she ascended a spiral staircase backstage. As she walked through a black curtain-which she believed to be a light blocker-she fell through an open backstage door and landed on the open stage, three metres below her.

The emergency services were notified, and Rachael was immediately rushed to hospital. She was diagnosed with spinal injuries, and she remained in hospital for six months receiving treatment for her injuries. When she was discharged, she was confirmed as a paraplegic, and now must remain in a wheelchair for life.

Rachael sought legal advice, and made a claim for compensation for a fall from a stage against the Headlong Theatre Company and the Soho Theatre. Both defendants admitted liability, and they negotiated £3.7 million in compensation to be awarded to Rachel. The HSE also persecuted the Soho Theatre for health and safety violations, ordering them to pay a total of £30,000.

Following the proceedings, Rachael expressed her gratitude to the actor’s union Equity. She urged all theatre operators to take the proper precautions to ensure that nobody else would suffer injuries similar to her own. She expressed regret at the fact that her own accident could have been avoided in “simple, cheap and obvious steps”.

In a statement released by management, the Soho Theatre has also expressed their regret at the accident. They stated: “we have done as much as we can to ensure that Rachael received the best possible care after the accident”. They also expressed relief at the fact that to claim for compensation has finally been settled.