Compensation Awarded to Ex-Firefighter for Fall Injuries

An ex-firefighter has received compensation for injuries he sustained while taking part in a training exercise during which a ladder snapped, causing injuries that ended his career.

In May 2011, Michael Hollings (46) of West Yorkshire was partaking in a training course in Ilkley Fire Station. Michael had been working as a fireman for eight years at the time of the training course. While participating in various training exercises, a 13.5 metre ladder that he was climbing with two of his fellow firefighters snapped. Michael, who was high up the ladder, was attached to it with an “improvised chest harness”.

When the ladder fell, the force of it hitting a solid fence caused communicated fractures in both of Michael’s forearms, and dislocated both of his elbows. Michael’s right foot was also broken on impact. The emergency services were notified, and Michael was transported to hospital, where he was also diagnosed with a concussion.

Michael had to undergo two operations on each of his arms, and was forced to wear a metal brace for several months following the incident. He still attends physiotherapy twice a week to help his arms recover, but he has been informed by medical professionals that he may never recover full use of either arm. As a consequence of his injuries, he was forced to give up his career as a firefighter. He also had to quit his part-time job as a HGV driver.

Michael sought legal advice from the Fire Brigade Union, and claimed injury compensation for his fall. He alleged that the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services (WYFRS) had supplied a ladder that was not fit for the purpose of the training exercise. The defendants accepted liability for the claim, and offered an interim settlement of compensation so that Michael could buy an automatic car and pay for his physiotherapy sessions.

An investigation into Michael’s future needs was conducted, and a final six-figure settlement of compensation was agreed upon. Michael stated that he was grateful to the Fire Brigade Union for its support during the ordeal, and it was still not clear why the ladder snapped during the exercise.

Paraplegic Awarded Compensation for Theatre Fall

Compensation has been awarded to a woman who fell through an open stage door in a dark theatre, leaving her paraplegic.

In June 2012, Rachael Presdee (38) was working as a stage manager for a production of “Boy’s”, run by the Headlong Theatre Company is the Soho Theatre in London’s West End. While she was working one night, she arrived to the theatre to find that all of the lights were off. In an attempt to locate a theatre employee to turn the lights back on, she ascended a spiral staircase backstage. As she walked through a black curtain-which she believed to be a light blocker-she fell through an open backstage door and landed on the open stage, three metres below her.

The emergency services were notified, and Rachael was immediately rushed to hospital. She was diagnosed with spinal injuries, and she remained in hospital for six months receiving treatment for her injuries. When she was discharged, she was confirmed as a paraplegic, and now must remain in a wheelchair for life.

Rachael sought legal advice, and made a claim for compensation for a fall from a stage against the Headlong Theatre Company and the Soho Theatre. Both defendants admitted liability, and they negotiated £3.7 million in compensation to be awarded to Rachel. The HSE also persecuted the Soho Theatre for health and safety violations, ordering them to pay a total of £30,000.

Following the proceedings, Rachael expressed her gratitude to the actor’s union Equity. She urged all theatre operators to take the proper precautions to ensure that nobody else would suffer injuries similar to her own. She expressed regret at the fact that her own accident could have been avoided in “simple, cheap and obvious steps”.

In a statement released by management, the Soho Theatre has also expressed their regret at the accident. They stated: “we have done as much as we can to ensure that Rachael received the best possible care after the accident”. They also expressed relief at the fact that to claim for compensation has finally been settled.

Asbestos to Blame for Elderly Man’s Cancer

Asbestos have been found to be the cause of the death of a sixty-five year old man, after he was exposed to the cancer-causing material as a teenager.

In September 2013, Charlie Glass (65 at the time) died at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin of mesothelioma cancer. He had been diagnosed with the disease in 2009, after receiving a CT scan. Charlie had fallen at work and injured his ribs, attending a VHI Swiftcare Clinic for treatment. X-rays were taken, which revealed more fluid on his lungs than what would have been expected. The fluid was drained, and the CT scan was taken-detecting the cancer.

Charlie required radical intervention, and was flown to London to receive chemotherapy and undergo surgery. After treatment, he returned home to Ireland and had several years of good health before the cancer eventually returned.

While being consulted on his cancer, Charlie was made aware of a link between exposure to asbestos and the type of cancer that he had. Aged 14 years old, Charlie was employed cutting asbestos sheets for use in fire doors for Brook Thomas Building Supplies. No protective clothing was provided for the workforce, and they often ate their lunches in the area where the asbestos was being stored. In the 1960s, when the work was being carried out, there was little public knowledge of the risk of exposure to asbestos.

The Dublin Coroner investigating the death-Dr Brian Farrell-was told at the inquest that when Charlie was initially diagnosed with cancer, he was told that he could possibly only have eleven months to live. In spite of this, he survived four more years. Dr Farrell was also told that both of Charlie’s siblings had previously died to asbestos related cancers, but had been exposed to the material in different incidents.

An autopsy of Charlie’s body was conducted, revealing “numerous asbestos bodies were identified in the lungs”. This confirmed the diagnoses of disseminated mesothelioma that had been given to Charlie. Dr Farrell returned the verdict that Charlie had died due to the asbestos related cancer, further commenting that it was an unfortunate coincidence that all three of the siblings had died from such a rare disease.

Actress Receives Undisclosed Sum as Whiplash Compensation

A former actress has settled a claim for compensation for whiplash injuries against her former employers for an undisclosed sum.

In November 2008, Rebecca Smith of Killiney, County Dublin, made a whiplash injury claim against RTE after claiming that the had sustained soft tissue injuries while filming a scene for “Fair City”. Rebecca-who played the character of Annette Daly-was filming a scene while in the passenger seat of a car being operated by a stuntman.

As a part of the scene-being filmed in the Mount Merrion Area-the stuntman was required to brake sharply on several occasions. This jolting movement caused Rebecca to be thrown backwards and forwards in her seat while filming the driving sequence. Rebecca claimed that immediately after the scene finished shooting, she felt pain in her neck and upper back.

The actress was transported to the nearest VHI Swiftcare Clinic. The pain eventually migrated down from her neck and back to her right arm and her fingers. Rebecca claims that she had trouble moving her neck for a week after the incident, and couldn’t sleep because of the discomfort and tingling feeling in her right arm and pain in her neck. She claimed that due to the extent of her injuries, she was prevented form working for a week.

Rebecca sought legal advice, and made a claim for whiplash injuries against her employer, RTE. She alleged that they had been negligent by failing to use a stunt double for her to film the sequence, thus failing to ensure her safety. RTE denied the claim, and as a result of the contested liability, Rebecca sought authorisation for the Injuries Board to pursue the claim in court. The authorisation was granted.

My Justice Raymond Groarke heard at the Civil Court in Dublin that Rebecca had settled her whiplash injury claim against the broadcasting company for an undisclosed sum, and the court could strike the case.

DSP Introduces Recovery of Welfare Benefits Scheme

A new scheme has been introduced by the DSP that allows for the recovery of welfare benefits from successful personal injury claims.

Since the first of this month, the “Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme” has been enforced. This scheme enables the Department of Social Protection (DSP) to recover welfare benefits paid to recipients of personal injury compensation.

The scheme was a result of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2013, aimed at replacing the previous practice of deducting welfare benefits from compensation for loss of earnings, and operates in a similar way to the Compensation Recovery Unit in the UK.

With the new legislation, the compensator in question-which is usually the negligent party’s insurance provider-is required to request a statement from the Department of Social Protection outlining the value of certain welfare benefits that the plaintiff has received in the previous five years which relate directly to the accident or injury for which their claim for compensation was made.

Copies of this statement will also be sent to the other relevant parties-the plaintiff and the Injuries Board (in cases where they have been responsible for completing an accepted assessment). This will detail the deductions that are to be made from compensation settlements for the recovery of welfare benefits.

The benefits which apply under the new scheme are confined to:

• Injury Benefit

• Illness Benefit

• Partial Capacity Benefit

• Incapacity Supplement

• Disability Allowance

• Invalidity Pension

Before this legislation, the welfare benefits have usually been deducted from plaintiff’s loss of earnings settlement, and therefore there will be no difference in how much personal injury compensation they receive. It is likely to take several weeks longer for a compensation settlement to be received as a result of the new process.

It is important to note that plaintiffs must check their copy of the benefits statement to ensure that it is entirely accurate, and reflects only the welfare benefits that they have received in respect of their injury. If the statement is incorrect, an appeals process exists.

For professional legal advice about how to check the recovery of welfare benefits – and what to do if you consider the DSP´s figures to be incorrect – it is recommended that you consult with a personal injury solicitor.

HSL Shows Link Between Worker’s Health and Asbestos

The Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) recently published a paper which demonstrates a clear link between the incidence of heart disease and strokes in workers and the asbestos they were exposed to in their workplace.

A study conducted by the HSL-a branch of the UK’s Health and Safety Executive-that was recently published in the British Medical Journal has concluded that employees exposed to asbestos are at a greater risk of heart disease and strokes than the general population.

15,557 deaths were analysed from 98,912 workers who had taken part in regular voluntary health monitoring and participated in the Asbestos Workers Survey. They compared the numbers of deaths from strokes and heart attacks among these workers with the number that would be expected to occur in members of the general population. They also found that women were more likely to be affected than men by the material.

This large difference between men and women was found to be significant. Male asbestos workers-who were usually engaged in removal of asbestos-were 39 percent more likely to die of heart disease and 63 percent more likely to die of a stroke. Women-mostly employed in the manufacturing industry-were 89 percent more likely to die of heart disease than the general population, and 100 percent more likely to die of a stroke after being exposed to asbestos.

Evidence was also presented that the longer the duration of exposure to the dangerous material, the greater the likelihood the person had of dying from heart disease or a stroke. The report concluded that cerebrovascular and ischaemis heart disease mortality rates were significantly higher when there had been exposure to asbestos in the workplace, causing concern.

Provided it can be proven that the person who was suffering from heart disease or who had experienced a stroke was exposed to asbestos at work-or due to linking environmental factors-it is possible to claim compensation for heart disease due to asbestos exposure.

The research that has been published has provided many victims of asbestos-related diseases with the information needed to claim compensation for their injuries. For cases where the person exposed to asbestos has died, families are permitted to claim compensation for heart diseases from asbestos exposure on the victim´s behalf; although the successful conclusion of the claim may depend on being able to locate witnesses who can confirm the presence of asbestos in the workplace.

Home Office Employees Awarded Compensation for RSI Claims

Two employees of the Home Office have been awarded compensation for RSI injuries to their shoulders and arms due to repetitive movements while performing their jobs, with reports of more employees coming forward to make similar claims.

Two employees of the Home Office have each been awarded up to £20,000 in compensation for RSI shoulder injuries that they developed over a period of time. As a part of their job, they had to lean out of a kiosk window to check the passports of visitors to the UK at the ferry port of Calais. This repeated action caused the RSI injuries to their arms.

Pamela Smith (58) of Dover, Kent, was one of the employees who mad the claim. After experiencing discomfort to her arm, she sought medical attention. She was diagnosed with a torn boxes and repetitive strain shoulder injury, for which she had to undergo surgery. While she was recovering, she was unable to return to work.

When she was eventually able to take her job up again, Pamela was informed that her job was being ended. Pamela sought legal counsel from her union and after speaking with her representative, she made a compensation claim for RSI shoulder injuries. Pamela’s claim was successful. Due to her continued pain in her arm, Pamela fears that she may now be unable to find a replacement job as she finds it difficult to work.

Due to severe staffing cuts, the number of immigration officers employed at Calais and other similar French ports has reduced. The remaining employees must now work longer shifts while performing these repetitive tasks. As a result, more people are suffering from repetitive strain injuries to their shoulder and arms, much like Pamela did.

The General Secretary of the Immigration Services Union (ISU) who represented Pamela and the unnamed officer-Lucy Moreton-stated: “The plight of officers working long hours in appalling conditions has been brought to management attention over and over again. The ISU hopes managers will now address these issues rather than sweep them under the carpet.”

It is understood that twelve more immigration officers based in French ports are also in the process of making claims for compensation for RSI shoulder injuries.

Court Fines Company Over Factory Fire

A court has fined Maxibrite Ltd for health and safety violations regarding a factory fire in which two of its employees suffered burn injuries-one so severe, he needed a skin graft.

In December 2012, a fire broke out in a tower on a manufacturing plant in Llantrisant owned by Maxibrite-a coal briquette manufacturer. Several attempts were made to control the fire in the tower-which held a rotary drier-all of which failed. After these failed attempts, a Maxibrite work manager-Simon Gillbody-and another employee-Carl Lewis-went to the tower to attempt to open an inspection hatch at the bottom to release any obstruction.

Carl opened the inspection hatch, causing burning cinders and hot coals to fall down on him. These caused burns to the necks, faces and chests of the two employees. The emergency services were notified, and they were transported to hospital. Carl required a skin graft operation due to the severity of his burns. Simon was treated to by the emergency services, as his burns were not as serious as Carl’s.

The Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation into the accident which caused the two men to be injured. It was discovered that Maxibrite had neither carried out a risk assessment for the possibility  of the rotary dried starting a fire, nor instructed the employees on the procedures to follow in the event of a fire. It was further revealed that no training had been provided for employees who may be using fire-fighting equipment if a fire were to break out.

The HSE prosecuted the company for breaches in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. At Pontypridd Magistrate’s Court, the company pleaded guilty to both of the charges against them. The Magistrates fined the company a total of £20,000 for their negligence which caused the injuries, and ordered the company to pay £5,115 in costs.

Speaking after the Magistrates had announced the fine, HSE inspector Steve Lewis commented that Simon and Carl–the two employees burned in the accident–could have suffered far worse injuries because of Maxibrite´s negligence. He urged all employers to inform staff of the proper procedures to follow should a fire break out at work.

Chef Settles Claim for Broken Wrist Against Employer

A chef who was participating in a team building exercise during which he broke his wrist has settled his claim for compensation against his employer, Carton House.

In October 2006, Cathal Kavanagh (54) of Ongar, Dublin, was employed by the Carton House Spa and Golf Hotel in Maynooth, County Kildare, as the executive head chef. Cathal was attending a team-building exercise event with his colleagues in the Riverbanks Art Centre in Newbrifge when he was involved in an accident that resulted in him breaking his wrist.

Cathal and his colleagues from the hotel participated in a series of events and games during the day. One of these events was a relay race, in which Cathal was required to hop forwards and then run backwards. During the race. Cathal slipped on the surface and fell, breaking his wrist due to the impact of the fall. Cathal was transported to hospital, where his injury was treated.

Cathal sought legal counsel, and made a compensation claim for an injury on a team building exercise against the Carton House Spa and Golf Hotel-a four star facility-and the organisers of the day-JikiJela Ltd of County Sligo. He made a further claim against the owners of the Riverbank Arts Centre-Kildare County Council.

In his action, Cathal claimed that all three parties had been negligent in ensuring his safety as they had not ensured that the activities were safe for this who participated in them, and they hadn’t ensured that there was no danger present in the location of the event. All three of the defendants denied liability, and Cathal sought Authorisation from the Injuries Board for his claim to go to court. The Injuries Board granted this application.

The case was scheduled to be heard at the Circuit Civil Court by Mrs Justice Mary Irvine. However, following the first lunch break of the case, the judge was informed that Cathal’s compensation claim for an injury on a team-building exercise had been settled and that case could be struck.

British Rail Pays Compensation to Worker for Loss of Hearing Claim

British Rail has paid compensation to a former worker who made a claim for loss of hearing, as a result of being in a noisy work environment for 17 years.

Between the years of 1956 and 1973, Aubrey Akers (72) of Swindon, Wiltshire, worked in the Swindon engineering works for British Rail. As a part of his job, he was constantly surrounded by up to three hundred machines. The noise of hammering and riveting was constantly surrounding him as the trains were stripped and rebuilt.

British Rail had been made aware of the dangers of excessive noise in the workplace from 1955, yet they failed to provide Aubrey or his colleagues with any ear protection or warn them about the risk of working in a prolonged noisy environment. Due to his employer’s failure to adequately adhere to safety regulations, Aubrey lost his hearing prematurely.

Aubrey was made aware that a former colleague at British Rail received compensation from his former employer for their failure in duty of care that caused his lack of hearing. Aubrey then sought legal counsel, and made a claim for loss of hearing at work against British Rail. The defendants initially denied liability for his loss of hearing. Just prior to the case being heard in court, they agreed to an out-of-court settlement amounting to £8,500.

Aubrey´s legal representative commented that many people who previously worked in excessively noisy environments develop premature deafness and tinnitus, and wrongly believe that it is attributable to old age. She recommended that anybody who was not provided with hearing protection contact a solicitor to see if they are eligible to make a claim for a loss of hearing at work.