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Justice For Welder Left Disabled After 20ft Fall On Ship

Serious Injury Experts Secure Settlement After Shipyard Worker Suffers Fractured Spine and Damaged Urethra


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 in April 2008 when the ladder he was climbing suddenly fell down into the shaft he had been working inside. After falling for six metres Jozef landed heavily astride a scaffolding pole causing fractures to two vertebrae in his back and serious damage to his urethra.

He was taken to James Cook Hospital where he remained for only a short time before his recruitment agency employers arranged for him to be flown back to Poland to seek further treatment with the support of his family.

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

Expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have now secured Jozef a substantial £400,000 settlement to cover 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.

The law firm has also insisted that if his conditions worsen and he is left paraplegic, loses control of his bladder and/or bowel or loses all sensation from below the waist then he will be able to apply for further funds to help him stay as independent as possible.

Jozef was represented by a serious injury expert from Irwin Mitchell who 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 that had worked tirelessly for over 40 years providing for his family. He would work whenever and wherever a job was available.

“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 such serious injuries while working hard to earn a living for their families.”

Jozef, originally from Reda in Poland, was working on a temporary job at A&P Tees Shipyard in April 2008 on a ship owned by Rohde-Nielsen. He had been recruited to undertake work as a welder at the site via European Active Projects Ltd who specialise in recruiting workers from abroad.

He was working to weld clips to the inside of a hatch at the rear of the ship when a suspended ladder became detached from its fittings. Jozef held onto the ladder as he fell 20ft into the shaft before being becoming suspended on a scaffolding pole after landing astride it. Despite suffering fractures to two vertebrae and severing his urethra, he was able to use the ladder to climb down into a dry dock below. From here he was able to find a staircase to get him back to the changing rooms while other workers told his supervisor what had happened.

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 just wanted to get back to my family in Poland. When I went back to Poland I had repeated operations and developed an infection; I again thought I would never recover.

“I was so relieved when my solicitor arranged for me to have further treatment in the UK and the surgeon told me that he could make things better.

“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.”

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious back or spinal cord injury at work, our specialist serious injury claims team could help you to claim compensation. Visit our Spinal Injury Claims page or Accident at Work Claims page for more information.