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HSE Trials Ends After Woman Was Crushed By Rotten Advertising Board

Serious Injury Experts Say Case Highlights Importance of Thorough Maintenance Checks


By Helen MacGregor

Expert lawyers representing a woman who suffered a life changing brain injury when a rotten advertising board crushed her skull say the case highlights the importance of proper maintenance checks after a court found the property developer and sign company guilty of health and safety failings.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, suffered a serious brain injury when a huge 36 square metre sign crashed 8ft to the floor because the wood had rotted from prolonged exposure to water.

In July 2013, a court sitting at the Old Bailey found A E Tyler Ltd T/A Allsigns Group and property developer St George South London Ltd guilty of health and safety failings after it was found the sign had rotted as a result of prolonged exposure to water and had not had maintenance checks to ensure it was structurally sound for over nine years.

The woman’s husband who was walking with her along the St George’s Wharf housing development by the Thames in March 2008 when the board fell, instructed serious injury experts at Irwin Mitchell to help her gain access to the support and rehabilitation she now needs. She was represented by the Official Solicitor.

Irwin Mitchell successfully arranged substantial interim payments from A E Tyler Ltd T/A Allsigns Group, to provide her with support and rehabilitation and to cover the fact she had to give up work as a result of her injuries. The company admitted responsibility for not maintaining the sign to a safe standard.

In April earlier this year a judge at the Royal Courts of Justice in London approved a lifetime care package which will be managed by Irwin Mitchell’s in-house Court of Protection team.

Laura Middleton-Guerard, a serious injury specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s London office who led the case, said: “This is a horrific case that has left a young woman unable to pursue the career she loved and facing a lifetime of support and rehabilitation to help her get through everyday life.

“At a time when Government is cutting health and safety budgets, this case highlights it can take five years to get justice, even when the civil claim is completed altogether.

“This case also illustrates the importance of the work the HSE does to ensure companies remain vigilant with health and safety and that breaches are properly investigated so that such life changing incidents are prevented as much as possible.

“Fortunately the defendant admitted responsibility just days before a liability trial was set in 2010 meaning we could arrange much-needed interim payments and paved the way for the lifetime settlement that was agreed in April.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to head injury claims