Steel erector forced to abandon career after surviving 20ft fall

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Steel erector forced to abandon career after surviving 20ft fall

2nd September 2013

A steel worker who was forced to retire from his job after he sustained serious injuries when he fell more than 20 feet onto a concrete floor has received £300,000 in an out-of-court settlement.

The West Sussex man, who is in his 40s, was devastated after realising he will no longer be able to cope with the extremely physical demands of the career he had always loved and enjoyed and now suffers permanent pain as a result of his injuries.

“My client was part of a three-man crew erecting structural steelwork on a building site in central London,” said Karen Garcia, a serious injury lawyer with Fentons Solicitors LLP. “Their job on the day was to feed a number of steel beams through a series of one-metre-square-sized holes from one concrete floor to another”.

“When work was suspended due to high winds the holes had to be covered to prevent anyone from falling through them,” she added. “However, health and safety at the site was poorly administered. My client picked up a piece of plywood to use as a temporary cover for one of the holes, but unbeknown to him, the wood was already covering an existing hole and fell more than 20 feet onto the ground below.”

Karen said when he regained consciousness; the man was lying face up and didn’t know where he was. “But he did know he’d been seriously injured,” she said. “Along with severe pain in his head and feeling like he was unable to breathe, the pain in his chest was so excruciating that each time he breathed in, he thought he was about to die.”

When an ambulance took him to hospital, scans revealed he had suffered multiple broken ribs, a bruised and punctured lung, injuries to his neck, back, shoulder and, thankfully only superficial injuries to the head. Had it not been for the fact that my client was of very robust constitution and for his utter determination to overcome his pain and suffering, his life could have ended. Thankfully, after just over a week he was sent home into the care of his partner and two children, but nevertheless his injuries were so extensive that he was barely even able to lie down.

“For the first few weeks, my client was virtually bed bound and was unable to move or do anything for himself,” said Karen. “Over the next couple of months he continued to suffer severe pain in his chest, back and left shoulder and found it almost impossible to sleep comfortably.

“Steel erecting is an extremely demanding and physical job and thanks in part to his tremendous fitness, my client was able to return to work on lighter duties after only six weeks,” she added. “Unfortunately, even lighter duties involved plenty of hands-on and very physical work and by the end of the first day he felt completely exhausted and realised he was, in his own words, a ‘different man altogether’.”

The man then developed severe pain in his shoulder, neck and lower back and found that even sitting down for prolonged periods of time became excruciating. In addition, he also developed persistent episodes of vertigo, dizziness, tinnitus and severe headaches.

Karen said that after her client’s symptoms continued to deteriorate, he reluctantly decided that enough was enough. “This was incredibly tough for him to accept,” she said. “Although he tried pushing himself, he had to finally accept that it was simply no longer physically possible for him to continue his work.”

Formerly a keen bodybuilder, the man’s inability to work or lift weights in the gym - even lifting his children proved too difficult - left him severely depressed. Over the next three years he continued to struggle with pain in his neck and back and in particular his shoulder, which became progressively worse over time. After extensive acupuncture and physiotherapy failed to ease his shoulder pain - which had begun to spread down his entire left arm all the way to his hand - he eventually underwent surgery.

“When he had his operation, doctors discovered that his accident had caused more damage then they had anticipated, with extensive trauma to the ligaments and cartilage around his shoulder,” said Karen. “Since his operation, he has had limited movement around his shoulder and because the joint has subsequently become so stiff he now struggles when getting dressed and he often suffers with pins and needles in his hand, particularly at night.

“When he had his operation, doctors discovered that his accident had caused more damage then they had anticipated, with extensive trauma to the ligaments and cartilage around his shoulder,” said Karen. “Since his operation, he has had limited movement around his shoulder and because the joint has subsequently become so stiff he now struggles when getting dressed and he often suffers with pins and needles in his hand, particularly at night.

“What happened to my client was completely avoidable,” she added. “The holes that had been cut into the concrete floor presented a dangerous hazard and even though the management team had been told they needed covering to prevent workers sustaining injury, no action was taken. As a result, my client and his colleagues felt compelled to carry out the work themselves which led to him suffering a fall he was extremely lucky to survive.”

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons Solicitors 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.