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Solicitors from our Bristol office helped a man and his family to claim compensation after he was involved in a serious accident at work.
In July 2008, Richard Chodkiewicz was left with life-changing head injuries after he was hit on the head by a scaffolding pole that fell 18 floors down a lift shaft in an accident at work.
Richard, 54, from Bristol, was working on the construction of the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bristol’s Broad Quay development when the pole, which had not been secured properly, came loose as it was being winched 18 storeys up inside the lift shaft. The pole fell to the base of the shaft, hitting Richard who was working below.
Richard was airlifted to hospital and underwent emergency surgery, spending more than six weeks in both intensive care and the high dependency unit before undergoing more than 12 months of tough rehabilitation. He was able to return home almost 18 months after the accident, but he still needs 24 hour care.
Richard’s devastating brain injuries have had a significant impact on him physically. He has limited movement, problems with speech and considerable cognitive and memory problems. His injuries mean that he will never be able to live an independent life or return to work.
The High Court in Bristol awarded Richard and his family a substantial seven figure financial settlement and care package. The compensation payment will allow Richard to access to the specialist lifelong care and rehabilitation he now needs.
Richard’s wife, Karen, said: “The last three and a half years have been an absolute roller coaster of emotions.
“When I was initially told about the accident, I rushed to Frenchay Hospital to find Richard in intensive care and unconscious. We were told that it was highly unlikely he would survive.
“When he finally regained consciousness, I had to deal with the shocking news that his brain injury was so serious that he would have lifelong problems. Richard is a fighter and, thanks to the fantastic work of the rehabilitation specialists at Frenchay Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre who have been so supportive, he has made a remarkable recovery.
“However, the fact remains that Richard will never be able to lead a normal independent life. He has no concept of anything that happens on the left side of his body and he now walks with a stick. His short term memory is very poor and he needs constant care and monitoring for his own safety. Richard’s long term memory has also been affected and at times he has difficulty remembering the names of his own children which is heartbreaking.”
The companies involved in the accident, Miller Construction and Hoistway Ltd were also fined £40,000 and £70,000 respectively, plus costs after both parties previously pleaded guilty to failing to protect Richard’s health and safety.
Deborah Bigwood, a serious injury specialist in Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office, represented Richard and his family. She said: “This particularly horrific workplace accident highlights the importance of the health and safety regulations which exist to protect workers. People have a basic fundamental right to know that when they go to work they will return home safely and unharmed.
“Richard took steps to protect himself, wearing the appropriate safety equipment, yet because the correct tools for the job weren’t provided, he suffered appalling injuries which were wholly avoidable.
“We have repeatedly called for improvements in site safety as the construction industry is one of the most dangerous to work in. HSE reported 2,298 reported major injuries to employees in 2010-2011 and this will only be reduced when greater measures are taken to protect workers safety.”
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