Amputee receives £1.75 million following industrial accident

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Amputee receives £1.75 million following industrial accident

13th May 2012

A young man who was incredibly lucky he wasn’t killed after he had his right foot severed in an horrific accident at work has received £1.75m in an out of court settlement.

David Roberts, a catastrophic injuries specialist at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said his client, a machine operator in his 20s, was working alone at night using a specialist log-cutting machine, when the incident occurred more than three years ago.

“The machine my client was operating can reduce a log to shavings in seconds and consisted of two large metal boxes which each contained 48 rotating blades,” said David, an associate with the firm. “When a log became jammed in one of the boxes, my client climbed in with a chainsaw - in accordance with the training he had received at the start of his employment - and attempted to cut the jammed log in half.”

When the man climbed into the machine, the rotating blades at work in each box were still powered and running at normal speed. When he was unable to cut the jammed log in half, he attempted to climb out of the box but slipped, trapping his right foot between the log and the side of the box. His foot then came into contact with the spinning blades, which tore through his boot and foot and dragged him down into the machine.

“My client can remember everything about the incident in minute detail and often wishes he could not,” said David. “The blades were so strong he could feel them pulling him downwards.

“Terrified, he kept thinking his whole body was about to be dragged into the machine and cut to shreds. The whole situation was made worse by the fact that he was alone in the shaving shed and there was no-one around to help him. Knowing that if he was to stay alive he would literally have to fight for his life, he somehow managed to use all the strength he could muster in his arms and upper body and heaved himself out of the machine and away from the blades.

“After clambering out of the box, my client could see that his foot had been completely severed,” said David.

“His leg was pouring with blood and he knew that he had to summon help to avoid bleeding to death. After wrapping his shirt around the bottom of his leg to stem the bleeding, he managed to struggle across a row of logs before crawling to the control unit where he was able to radio for help.”

The man was taken by ambulance to hospital and immediately underwent surgery to amputate a further six inches of his lower leg to combat the risk of infection. After two weeks he was discharged and over the next several months was looked after at home by his family, whom he relied upon to help him with almost every aspect of his day-to-day life.

“Throughout this period, my client received regular intensive physiotherapy as well as weekly training and guidance in how to use a prosthetic limb,” said David. “However, he found it extremely painful to use and as the exercises he was instructed to take and the exertion needed to practice walking on his prosthetic limb were often so exhausting, he had to be extremely careful not to force his rehabilitation and instead allow plenty of time for his leg to heal properly.”

Further tests found a sharply cut shin bone and an excessively long calf bone, as well as poor muscle mass cushioning the stump, which meant he had to undergo revision surgery the following year to shorten and smooth the bones and increase the amount of soft tissue around the area to allow for the comfortable use of prosthetic limbs.

“As my client’s rehabilitation continued, we were very fortunate we could arrange for a fantastic case manager to look after him, who was instrumental in helping him regain his independence and giving him the mental lift he needed to recover from the trauma of his injury,” said David. “Not only did she provide immeasurable practical assistance in helping to arrange specially adapted accommodation and a modified vehicle to help with his mobility and travel needs, but she also urged him to take part in a radical new physically intensive rehabilitation programme, which was originally devised by the Armed Forces and is now used to help previously active civilian amputees deal with their injuries.”

Having previously been a keen footballer and boxer who enjoyed running and regularly attending his gym, the physically testing rehabilitation programme the claimant underwent proved both challenging and rewarding and was deemed a great success. It is expected that after he regains some of his former athletic ability, he will soon be able to participate - with the aid of specialised prosthetics - in sport and leisure activities, with his aim being to start playing football again in the near future.

“My client has recovered well from his surgery and has made good progress adapting to life with a prosthesis,” said David. “However, his limb is often extremely sore following exertion and he continues to suffer with intermittent pain as well as so-called ‘phantom limb pain’ - which is often excruciating and almost impossible to treat. In addition, he often struggles with his balance and as a result, is prone to falls whilst using his crutches.

“Due to his amputation, my client has not been able to return to work and is now unable to return to the type of work he was skilled in and enjoyed,” added David. “Although he fully intends to return to some form of employment once his rehabilitation is completed, it is likely that this will involve working part-time in some form of sedentary occupation. He will continue to receive care for the rest of his life and the amount of care he will need will increase with his age as his mobility deteriorates.”

After liability was admitted, David settled the claim on behalf of his client for £1.75m, including £166,000 in interim payments, which proved crucial in contributing towards his rehabilitation.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons Solicitors has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of accidents in the workplace as well as claims relating to catastrophic injuries involving amputations.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire