Damages for Enfield man who broke leg when floor gave way

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Damages for Enfield man who broke leg when floor gave way

19th March 2012

An Enfield man, who broke his ankle and leg when a ladder he was standing on crashed through the floor, has received £170,000 in compensation in an out of court settlement.

The self-employed dry wall plasterer, who did not wish to be named, suffered such horrific injuries that doctors have warned him he may have to give up his career.

“I was working as part of a team contracted to renovate premises in Kingsway near Holborn, in December 2007, when it happened,” said the man, who is in his 40s. “As soon as we got on site I told the foreman I was concerned about the shocking state of the floor in the building. The floorboards were so rickety and loosely fixed to the ground that it was clearly dangerous, and the site controllers told me it would be fixed. But three days later, on the day of my incident, nothing had been done.

“I was stood on a stepladder about a metre off the ground when one of the legs simply disappeared and went crashing through the floorboards,” he said. “I was thrown off and landed really awkwardly on my left ankle, and immediately felt the bones in my shin break. I looked down and the bones were actually sticking out of my foot - I was in absolute agony. It was horrific.”

He was taken by ambulance to University College Hospital and diagnosed with a dislocated left ankle and compound fractures around his left shin. After undergoing surgery to have what is known as a ‘halo-frame’ attached to his injured leg, he remained in hospital for almost a fortnight over Christmas. He was then transferred to the Royal Free Hospital on Boxing Day where he underwent skin graft surgery before being allowed home on New Year’s Eve.

“After my discharge from hospital, I found it almost impossible to sleep whilst wearing the halo-frame,” he said. “I couldn’t put any weight on my injured leg, even when I was on crutches, and I had to rely on my former partner to help me with the cooking and getting dressed each day. I was living in a second-floor flat at the time, so getting around was a nightmare. The worst part was not being able to see my sons, who lived with their mother. Ordinarily, I would see them on weekends, but the extent of my injuries meant I just couldn’t do this.”

Joanna Bailey, a serious injuries  expert at Fentons Solicitors LLP, represented the injured man. “Whilst my client has now returned to work, he finds it particularly painful climbing ladders,” she said. “Even just standing still on a ladder causes difficulties and doctors have told him that it will always be painful and that he will never be properly balanced whilst doing so. Bearing in mind that using ladders is an essential part of his profession, he has now been advised to seek alternative work.

Ms Bailey said her client had to keep the halo-frame attached to his injured leg for nine months before it could eventually be removed. “His leg remained swollen and sore once the frame was off, and walking or standing for even an hour continues to hurt,” she said. “Despite receiving physiotherapy around his ankle to help try and improve his range of movement, it is still inflexible in the mornings and continues to ache throughout the day, particularly in the current cold weather.”

Ms Bailey, a partner with Fentons, said that the case was particularly sad for her client because it could so easily have been avoided. “If the developers, Identity Design Properties, had only fixed the floor they asked this young man to work on then he could have been spared so many years of pain and discomfort,” she said.

“Although they eventually admitted liability, it has taken more than four years to secure him the compensation to which he is entitled. He has been left with a permanent injury that has ensured he will never be able to run again and will always struggle to walk on uneven or sloping ground. As a specialist plasterer, his long-term job prospects have inevitably been affected and I’m just pleased that this is reflected in the settlement he has now received.”

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of accidents in the workplace.

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.