Settlement Secured For Family Of Father-Of-One Who Died From Accidental Overdose

Workplace Injury Lawyers Help To Support Family After Tragic Death

25.02.2015

The heartbroken fiancée of a man who died of an accidental overdose of pain relieving drugs taken after his leg was amputated following an accident at work, has received an undisclosed settlement amount from the company which caused the accident.  

Daniel Batchelor, from Weymouth in Dorset, was found unconscious in his bed by his long-term partner of five years, Shari Newman, on 22 January last year. Daniel died after choking on his own vomit, which caused his brain to be starved of oxygen. Daniel was aged just 36 and he and Shari had a two year old son, Alfie. 

Daniel worked for Wifigear Ltd as a wireless installation engineer and had an accident at work in 2011 when a ladder he was using collapsed from under him, sending him plunging four metres through the air, before hitting the concrete ground below. 

Daniel sustained serious injuries, including two fractures to his right leg and a fractured right wrist. He underwent multiple operations to both his leg and wrist. Daniel was unable to return to work and he went on to develop compartment syndrome in his leg - when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels, causing paralysis and infection. Daniel’s fracture to his leg was so severe he had to undergo a below-the-knee amputation in March 2013.  Daniel developed major depression as a result of his injuries. 

Daniel was allergic to the opiate-based pain medication he was prescribed by his doctors and he was so desperate to relieve himself of his ongoing pain that he purchased a pain relief drug called Methoxetamine from the internet.  Daniel struggled to manage his medication due to forgetfulness caused by the accident, meaning he often doubled up on doses as he couldn’t remember taking them previously, which is what Shari believes led to his death. 

An inquest into Daniel’s death took place at Dorchester Coroner’s Court on 28 May last year and HM Coroner Sheriff Payne held that Daniel had died as a result of an accidental overdose, taken with the intent to relive himself from pain.  

Daniel instructed specialist workplace injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to pursue a claim against his employers. After lengthy legal proceedings Daniel’s employers admitted that Daniel had been given a ladder to carry out his work, despite it being inappropriate and dangerous for the task he was trying to do. 

Anna Pask, a specialist workplace injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, said: “This is a heartbreaking case – Daniel was working so hard to get his life back on track after his accident and he was looking forward to marrying his fiancé, Shari, in September 2014.  His recovery and rehabilitation were very painful, but he showed remarkable courage and strength.

“We are pleased that Daniel’s employers accepted liability for the accident and we have secured a settlement for Daniel’s family which will provide Shari and Alfie with some financial security for the future. The last few years have been incredibly traumatic for the family and the conclusion of the legal case means they can now start to rebuild their lives.  
 “Despite legislation to protect employees who have to work at heights during the course of their job, accidents are still regularly occurring, resulting in often devastating consequences. Greater training and provision of equipment will help to combat this and we urge companies to learn lessons from what happened to Daniel, to prevent similar incidents from happening again.”

Shari, 35, added: “Our family are still desperately struggling to come to terms with what has happened to Daniel and the most heart breaking thing is knowing Alfie will have to grow up without a father.

“Daniel knew he was lucky to be alive after the fall. He wanted to be able to provide for me and Alfie and he was desperate to be able to return to work - even after his amputation, Daniel talked about training to become a postman.

“But Daniel struggled to manage his pain and it was very hard watching him suffer. Daniel felt completely helpless and he thought the only way he could cope with the pain was to purchase his own medication. The drugs Daniel bought should not be available over the internet and more should be done to raise awareness of the huge risks that come with taking them. 

“It is heartbreaking to think what we have been put through as a family, all as a result of an accident which was completely avoidable. Companies have a duty to provide appropriate work equipment and if Daniel’s employers had done this, he would still be here today. 

“I am relieved that the legal process has come to a conclusion and I can now try and focus on mine and Alfie’s future.”