Case Studies: Personal Injury

A Serious Accident in the Workplace

O’Reilly Stewart were instructed by Mr S following an accident at work in May 2013. Dionne Darragh acted in this case.

Mr S was employed as a site manager. As would be usual in the construction industry, the main contractor, our client’s employer, retained a number of sub-contractors to carry out different areas of work. On the morning of the accident, our client was walking on site towards the site office when he was run over by an excavator, driven by an employee of one of the sub-contractors. Our client confirmed he felt a tug with his lower left leg. This was the track of the excavator as it moved backwards. Our client threw himself to the side to try to avoid contact with the track however it went over his legs. The driver did not see our client at all and was alerted by another employee to stop the excavator.

Liability was disputed. Proceedings were issued against both our client’s employer and the sub-contractor. Our client’s employer alleged that our client was on his telephone and slipped on a kerb causing him to fall into the path of the excavator. Witness statements were obtained. The main dispute was whether our client slipped or not. What was perfectly clear and accepted was that the driver did not see our client.

Forensic Engineering evidence was obtained which confirmed the excavator should never reverse, especially without a banksman. The driver should have rotated the cab to enable him to drive forwards. If so, it was accepted the accident would not have happened.

As a result of the accident, our client sustained significant injuries. He required an above knee amputation to his left leg and suffered significant injuries to his right leg, with an undisplaced fracture of the right fibula, a fracture of the distal right tibia, fracture of the calcanium, fracture of the cuneiform bones and fractures of the metatarsals.

Detailed medical assessment was arranged and reports were obtained from independent medical experts, namely a Consultant Prosthetic Surgeon, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Consultant Radiologist, Consultant Foot and Ankle Surgeon, Consultant Psychiatrist, Consultant in Pain Management, Care Expert, Consultant Physiotherapist, Consultant Occupational Therapist and Forensic Accountant.

The medical evidence confirmed that our client was fitted with a prosthetic limb. He experienced difficulties with mobility and he sought a better-quality prosthesis as despite substantial rehabilitation, he remained prone to falls.

The right leg continued to cause problems and the prognosis was uncertain in light of the difficulties with the left leg. The independent medical experts opined that our client would require surgery by way of gastrocnemius lengthening combined with exploration of repair of the peroneal tendons plus midfoot joint image guided injections. The fracture of the right leg plus the amputation of the left leg was expected to affect our client’s long term mobility.

In light of this and our client’s employment history, concern was raised at an early stage about ability to return to work. Medical evidence obtained confirmed, even if our client obtained a speciality prosthesis, he would not be able to return to any type of construction work even in a supervisory capacity, due to the uneven terrain and demands associated with outside work. Due to the nature of the injuries, ongoing phantom pain and high levels of medication, the reality of employment, despite our client’s best endeavours, was uncertain.

The care experts reported on the necessary alterations to our client’s property and the level of past present a future care requirements. The forensic accountant report detailed the care costs and considered different scenarios in respect of future employment. A report from a private provider of prosthetic limbs detailed the costs of the best possible prosthesis, which inflated the claim.

The case was defended until Hearing. Both Defendants disputed liability and raised contributory negligence as a defence.

The medical evidence was not disputed in that the nature of the injury was agreed. The ability to return to work, future care costs and type of prosthesis was disputed.

Negotiations proved successful however and the case settled in the sum of £1.3million.

Work related accidents require specialist investigation. We have built up an extensive network of professional contacts to assist in preparing your case. As evidenced in this report, we will assess the effects of your injury on your physical wellbeing, quality of lift and future losses.

If you have sustained an accident at work and require appropriate legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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