Derbyshire Man Entitled To 100% Of Final Settlement For His Injuries
The mother of a Derbyshire man who was left blinded and with serious brain injuries when he was hit on the head by a five and a half tonne metal sheet has expressed her relief at the High Court’s decision to hold the company he worked for 100 per cent liable.
Mark Downs, aged 39, from Eckington, in Derbyshire, was crossing the factory floor at Hadee Engineering Ltd, in Halfway, Sheffield, when the sheet, which was being manoeuvred in a tandem lift, swung out of position and knocked him against a steel skip.
The work accident has left him blind and paralysed down his left side, and he has also lost his sense of smell and taste. He has had to undergo extensive rehabilitation to aid his recovery from the accident, but it is still expected that he will need lifelong assistance.
He is now being supported by the Headway North Derbyshire support group in Chesterfield and regularly attends monthly meetings.
Mr Downs’ mother, Sandra, instructed brain injury experts from law firm Irwin Mitchell to investigate a claim against Hadee Engineering. Although Mr Downs was using a designated walkway when the accident occurred his employers refused to accept full liability for the incident.
Irwin Mitchell advised Mr Downs’ family to take the claim to trial at Sheffield High Court, where Mr Justice MacDuff QC ruled that the employers were fully liable for the accident.
He criticised Hadee Engineering Ltd for seriously breaching a number of health and safety regulations at the time of the accident. These include failing to properly supervise the tandem lift, not carrying out a risk assessment, not holding a written method statement, operating without a banksman or supervisor and failing to properly train one of the crane drivers.
He also ruled that Mr Downs was entitled to 100 per cent of the final settlement for his injuries, which is now being calculated to cover his rehabilitation and life long care needs.
Sandra Downs said: “We are very relieved at the outcome of the trial. We are pleased that we have been able to move one step closer to getting the funding we need for Mark’s care and rehabilitation in the future.
“We are extremely grateful to Irwin Mitchell, not just for their work on the case but for the ongoing help and support they have given us. Their hard work has made sure Mark will be able to access the highest standard of care for the rest of his life.”
Rachael Aram, a brain injury specialist at Irwin Mitchell, represents the family. She said: “We are pleased that the Court has recognised that the accident was caused entirely by the negligence of Mr Downs’ employers, but unfortunately there is nothing we can do to turn back the clock.
“Employers have a duty of care to look after those who are working for them. This horrific accident should never have happened, and had Mr Downs’ employers followed basic health and safety regulations it would have been avoided.
“We are committed to ensuring that our clients are able to access the best possible care available, and this ruling will ensure that Mark is able to access everything he now needs.
“Mark’s rehabilitation is ongoing. He is undertaking further speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy in the community and has received assistance from the Royal Society for the Blind. He’s also currently on the waiting list for a guide dog to assist his independence in the community.”
Mr Downs had been working as a welder for Hadee Engineering Ltd for over 15 years when he was hit on the head by the five and a half tonne sheet on 24 October 2007.
He was crossing the factory floor using the designated walkway when the steel sheet, which was being manoeuvred by a tandem lift, swung out of position and knocked him into a steel skip.
The accident left him with a deep skull fracture, brain contusions and a right sided haemorrhage, and multiple fractures to both eye sockets.
He was treated by paramedics at the scene of the accident, but then had to be taken to Neurosurgical Unit at Royal Hallamshire Hospital, where he was treated as an emergency case.
He underwent a 16 hour operation at the hospital, where titanium plates were inserted into his skull in order to protect his brain from further damage. He remained at the Royal Hallamshire for three months following the accident, before being transferred to the Northern General Hospital for neuro-rehabilitation.
He is now undergoing extensive rehabilitation and it is expected that he will need care for the rest of his life.
If you or a loved one has suffered a head or brain injury at work, our specialist serious injury solicitors could help you to claim compensation. Visit our Brain & Head Injury Compensation Claims for more information.