Businessman who survived 30ft fall receives substantial damages

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Businessman who survived 30ft fall receives substantial damages

3rd February 2010

A York businessman who nearly died when he fell 30 feet onto the concrete pavement outside his home has received a substantial damages payout in an out of court settlement.

Christopher Cook, 46, suffered life-threatening injuries when the cherry picker he was using to paint his home was hit by a passing truck, knocking him out of the vehicle's 'basket' and sending him plunging to the ground. The married father-of-three was so badly injured that his wife Julie was warned to expect the worst and advised to switch off his life support machine.

Mr Cook, who runs a successful building and property development firm, had been decorating his house in Bootham, York, and had planned on painting the window frames and facia boards to the front of the building on the morning of Thursday, 2 August 2007.

"I still have no memory of the incident," said Mr Cook. "I'd arranged to hire a cherry picker, as the area I wanted to paint was about 30 feet from the ground and I didn't want to use a ladder. When it arrived, the operator parked outside our home and he and I both climbed into the basket, which was still resting on the back of the vehicle."

As the operator began lifting up the basket, the arm of the cherry picker moved out across the road, directly into the path of oncoming traffic. "I actually don't remember what happened at all," said Mr Cook. "I've been told that when the truck hit us I was knocked from the basket and fell to the floor."

Mr Cook was rushed to York Hospital for emergency treatment before being transferred to Leeds General Infirmary just a few hours later. He had suffered extensive fracturing to the skull and had sustained damage to the brain. He remained in a coma for almost a month.

"This has been a horrific experience for Mr Cook and his family," said Gary Herbert, a personal injury specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, who represented Mr Cook. "His injuries were so serious that at one time doctors said he was technically brain dead and advised Mrs Cook to consider removing the life support machinery."

Against all the odds, Mr Cook gradually came round and began the long road to rehabilitation. "When he finally woke from the coma, Mr Cook had no recollection of the accident, or the circumstances that had led to him being in hospital," said Mr Herbert. "The seriousness of his injury cannot be overstated - he didn't even remember his youngest son being born.

"Mr Cook had a catalogue of neurological problems, lost the sight in his right eye and has been left with no sense of taste or smell," he said. "However, over the last two years he has made the most remarkable of recoveries."

Following the incident William Birch & Sons Ltd, the firm which supplied the cherry picker, was prosecuted and fined by the Health and Safety Executive for failing to follow safety procedures. Mr Cook then launched his own claim for compensation against the firm.

"Mr Cook almost lost his life because the company he hired did not follow the proper procedure," said Mr Herbert. "At the very least, the area where the cherry picker was being used should have been coned off, and the operator should have known not to extend the arm of the vehicle into the path of traffic.

"While Mr Cook has made an extraordinary recovery, his business was deprived of his leadership during a difficult time," said Mr Herbert. "It is fortunate that his business was able to survive, and he is very thankful for the support of his partners."

Mr Cook's astonishing recovery continued and he has been able to return to work. "This has been a very difficult time for me and my family," said Mr Cook. "But with their love and support, and the help and encouragement of our friends, we have made it through this ordeal together.

"I'm thrilled that just over two years after the incident we've successfully settled our claim," he said. "Now we can look forward to moving on with our lives."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of serious head 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.

York Press