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A welder, who suffered two serious fractures to his back following a 20ft fall from a ladder onboard a ship, has received a six-figure settlement to help get his life back on track.

Jozef Radtke, 60, was working as a welder in a Middlesbrough shipyard when the ladder he was climbing suddenly fell down into the shaft he had been working inside. After falling six metres, Jozef landed heavily astride a scaffolding pole causing fractures to two vertebrae in his back and serious damage to his urethra.

He spent several hours trying to find help before being taken to James Cook University Hospital. However, before his treatment could be completed, his recruitment agency employers flew him back to Poland.

Jozef’s recovery was blighted by several failed operations in Poland in an attempt to re-attach his urethra. As a result, specialist serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office who were representing him, arranged for him to be flown to the UK for treatment with a top urologist who managed to successfully complete the surgery.

A £400,000 settlement has now been secured for Jozef to support his intensive rehabilitation treatment and help pay for a new home in Poland with better accessibility and fewer stairs, as well as securing access to the treatment, physiotherapy and rehabilitation he needs for the injuries that have left him needing assistance walking even short distances.

Irwin Mitchell have also insisted that if his conditions worsen then he will be able to apply for further funds to help him stay as independent as possible.

Rachel Di Clemente, Associate at the Newcastle office who was representing him said: “The fall completely changed Jozef’s life and left him devastated that he may lose his independence and no longer be able to care for his family in the same way. This is a man who had worked tirelessly for over 40 years providing for his family.

“It is nearly five years since the incident and in that time Jozef has suffered huge amounts of pain both physically and psychologically. Now that the settlement has been secured he will be able to access further treatment and rehabilitation to aid his recovery and improve his quality of life.

“We are hopeful that safety in shipyards will improve as a result of the issues raised with this case to ensure that no other workers suffer from serious injuries while working hard to earn a living for their families.”

Jozef said: “This settlement is a huge relief for me and my family after many years of worrying about what would happen to me and how I could continue to support them. When I was in hospital initially, I thought I was going to die and was so worried as I had no family around to support me. When I went back to Poland I had repeated operations and developed an infection; I again thought I would never recover.

“Falling from that ladder five years ago completely changed my life and even now I often have nightmares where I feel like I am falling and have to relive the whole experience. It has been a huge struggle physically and emotionally and I have regularly been frustrated and angry because of what happened to me. Now I want to move on and use this settlement to continue with my rehabilitation and hopefully be able to do more for myself and my family.”