Damages for delivery driver left with severe brain injury following work fall

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Damages for delivery driver left with severe brain injury following work fall

6th March 2014

A North Wales man who suffered a severe brain injury when he fell from the back of his lorry has received £600,000 in an out of court settlement.

Mark Hatzer, a specialist catastrophic injuries lawyer at Fentons Solicitors, part of Slater & Gordon, said the incident had dramatically altered the former HGV driver’s personality and permanently deprived him of his sense of smell and taste.

“My client, who is in his 30s, suffered significant post-traumatic amnesia and can remember very little about the incident, which occurred more than four years ago,” said Mark, a principal lawyer at the firm. “Although he remembers arriving at a farm to collect some bags of fertiliser, his next memory is of waking up in hospital two days later.

“On the day of his accident, my client was following his usual routine of standing on the back of his trailer while the fertiliser was being loaded by forklift truck,” he added. “It was standard procedure for the drivers to help in this way and he had been attending the same premises and loading his lorry in exactly the same manner almost every day for the past 10 years. Unfortunately however, whilst tying the fertiliser bags together he slipped and fell more than two metres to the ground.”

After being taken unconscious by ambulance to hospital having suffered a severe brain injury, several facial fractures and a broken left wrist, the claimant spent the next three days in intensive care. After another four days, during which time he underwent an operation to plate his broken left wrist, he was discharged into the care of his wife and family.

“Over the next several months, during which time he was heavily reliant on his wife for help with all his day-to-day needs, my client suffered significant post-traumatic stress symptoms which included problems with his sleeping as well as frequent nightmares and flashbacks,” said Mark. “When he tried returning to work after only a few months due to financial pressures, it quickly became obvious that he was neither physically nor mentally capable of doing the job he had previously enjoyed for more than a decade.

“On top of struggling to concentrate; process information and follow conversations, my client suffered huge problems with his memory which meant he had to be constantly reminded of things he needed to do,” he added. ”In addition, he suffered with severe fatigue, which meant he struggled to do what was often an extremely physically demanding job. Sadly, as a result, his business failed and had to be shut down.”

Mark said that losing the company was a devastating blow to his client’s confidence and greatly contributed to his growing feelings of worthlessness and frustration at no longer being able to provide for his family. “Previously my client was known as being very sociable, gentle and mild-mannered,” he said. “But as a result of his brain injury his personality completely changed and as well as losing all his confidence and becoming both withdrawn and depressed, he also became extremely irritable and aggressive.

“Although my client has undergone significant rehabilitation and therapy, he continues to have trouble processing information and his memory remains no better,” added Mark. “In addition to his permanent loss of smell and taste, he also suffered right-sided hearing loss and tinnitus which is ongoing and means he now has to wear a hearing aid.”

Mark said that on the day of the accident, his client was simply following the accepted working practices of his employer - that of standing on the back of his trailer and helping to secure the bags of fertiliser as they were being loaded by forklift truck. “Not only was there no supervision of the drivers but no risk assessment had taken place into the possible dangers of standing on the trailers in this way,” he said. “In short, there was no enforceable safe working system in place.

“Had his employer been more particular and precise with their loading instructions, my client would have complied with their requirements, so as not to risk his livelihood,” added Mark. “As a result of his injuries, he has been left with permanent brain damage, an altered personality, a perforated ear drum, no sense of smell or taste, and the failing of his business and work prospects - not to mention months of anxiety and post-traumatic stress as well as untold damage to his personal life.”

After liability was admitted subject to a 60:40 split for contributory negligence, Mark settled the claim on behalf of his client for £600,000.

Following a Health and Safety Executive investigation, the farm where the incident occurred has significantly changed its working practices.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of brain injuries.

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.