Legal Victory For Injured Tree Surgeon Paves Way For Settlement

Lawyers Helping Dorset Man After Cherry Picker Topples Over On Unsuitable Pads


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A tree surgeon who suffered a spinal cord injury when a cherry picker he was working in toppled over has won his legal battle against the suppliers of the machine after a judge ruled it was not fit for purpose.

In December 2010 Chris Baxter, of Blandford Forum in Dorset, was working from the basket of a RQG 18 E Spider cherry picker pruning trees at a property in Milborne St Andrew, when the machine slipped off its floor pads, toppled over from height and crashed to the ground. The accident left the 33 year-old with very serious injuries including a fractured spine and spinal cord injury, a dislocated shoulder, fractured ribs, pelvis and right leg and broken teeth.

An employee of Chris’ was with him in the basket of the cherry picker at the time of the accident and was also left with serious injuries.

Chris instructed expert serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the incident and to help secure a fair settlement to reflect the enormous impact the accident and his injuries have had on his life and the life of his family.

Throughout the four year history of the case, the lawyers for the suppliers of the machine refused to accept that the accident was caused by defects in the machine.

At the trial on liability starting on 18 November 2014 at the Royal Courts of Justice, the judge was asked to decide whether the accident was caused by the machine being set up and used incorrectly or because it was defective. The judge has today ruled in Chris’ favour that Up and Out Platform Hire supplied a machine to him that was not safe to use.

Angela Batchelor and Sofie Toft, specialist serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell representing Chris, said: “This is a big boost for Chris as today’s judgment now paves the way for us to negotiate a fair settlement on his behalf.

“The judgment also raises serious concerns regarding the safety of using the Spider RQG 18E machine and we hope that others still using the machine will take note of this judgment and ensure that they take the necessary precautions to keep their workers safe.

“It has been a tough four years for Chris but he was always determined to see the machines investigated properly and he feels that he now has a sense of justice over what happened.”

Chris, who has qualifications in the use of cherry pickers and has been working with them since he was 16, said: “It’s a massive relief to finally know that this accident was caused by the machine and not by my error or an error of my employees.

“When the machine was installed I believed that I was been given the right equipment for the job and that machine would be safe for me and my employees to use – especially because the company came to help set it up. I now understand the machine is no longer in production and the new machines of the market have a significantly different design to make them safer.

“I hope that my case raises awareness of the importance of making sure you have the right tools for the job and that working with heavy machinery can be dangerous. It was really important to me throughout this legal battle that we highlighted any safety concerns so that others don’t suffer as I have.”

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident but engineering experts believed that the HSE report, which claimed operator error, hadn’t tested all the relevant systems. Unfortunately the machine had been destroyed before further investigations could take place, further complicating Irwin Mitchell’s investigation into the accident.

Irwin Mitchell were successful in proving that the machine failed because sensors which record the stability of the cherry picker did not sound the alarm and the machine slipped on unfixed pads before falling over. Expert engineers believe that had the machine been fitted with pads fixed to its feet it would not have slipped and the accident would not have happened.

The law firm also found that a previous accident involving the same model of Spider cherry picker had similar issues with the warning systems not working when the machine slipped.

Our expert personal injury lawyers will provide you with free initial advice on your compensation claim if you have been injured or fallen ill as a result of faulty or defective products. See our Defective Product Claims page for more information.