Damages for hospital technician after near-death ordeal

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Damages for hospital technician after near-death ordeal

26th February 2013

A Somerset man whose personality changed after he suffered a severe blow to the head and was nearly crushed to death in an accident at work has received £230,000 in an out of court settlement.

Arthur Keitch, a workplace accident specialist at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said the incident, which occurred more than three years ago, had such a profound effect upon his client’s mental health that he was eventually forced into early retirement.

“My client, who is in his 50s, was working as a hospital technician,” said Arthur, an associate with the firm. “When he went to open a large industrial fridge, the heavy steel door, which measured nine feet high and was several inches thick, suddenly came off its hinges and struck him forcefully on his forehead before slipping onto his right shoulder.

“He recalls putting his hands to his head and stumbling forwards before hearing a tremendous bang as the door hit the floor,” added Arthur. “He vividly remembers thinking he had been fatally injured and was literally about to die. He then collapsed and blacked out and when he regained consciousness, his colleagues - who had arrived after hearing the bang - told him he had been out for a couple of minutes.”

After being wheeled to the accident and emergency ward, the man underwent a brain scan and was released into the care of his wife later that day with a huge bruise on his forehead as well as severe pains in his right shoulder and neck.

Arthur said that following the incident, his client was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and required considerable care and assistance from his wife. “This was an extremely frightening experience,” said Arthur, “and my client was very fortunate he wasn’t crushed to death. In the months following the incident, he suffered recurring nightmares as well as several traumatic flashbacks which forced him to relive his ordeal along with the conviction that he could so easily have been killed.

“In addition to suffering severe depression, my client’s personality completely changed,” added Arthur. “Having previously been a confident, sociable and organised individual, he became increasingly withdrawn, moody and disinhibited. Since the accident, he feels like his life has been turned upside down, he has lost confidence in himself and his abilities, he is hypersensitive to noise and he suffers frequent panic attacks and anxiety when in crowds or upon meeting new people.”

When the claimant’s ongoing psychological symptoms continued to prevent him from returning to work, his contract was terminated and he was forced to take early retirement despite only being in his early 50s. “My client was devoted to his work and firmly believes that had it not been for his accident, he would have continued working until the age of 65,” said Arthur.

“He was clearly incredibly lucky he wasn’t killed on the day of the incident,” he added. “But it has been the psychological toll of his ordeal that has inflicted the most damage. My client has undergone extensive psychotherapy and counselling since that day and although he has made significant gains in dealing with what happened, his ongoing anxiety symptoms mean a return to the type of specialist work he is qualified for is extremely unlikely.”

After liability was admitted, Arthur settled the case on behalf of his client for £230,000 in February 2013.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of accidents at work.

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.