Damages win for ex-soldier who nearly lost his leg after fall

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Damages win for ex-soldier who nearly lost his leg after fall

5th February 2010

A former soldier from Doncaster who nearly lost his leg after a horrific accident has received substantial damages in an out of court settlement.

Frank Sharpe, 57, of Lynden Avenue, Adwick-Le-Street, still struggles to walk more than four years after his fall on an unsafe ramp at the Carcroft waste recycling site on 13 August, 2005.

"I'd been setting up a new barbeque in the garden," said Mr Sharpe, who served in the Army for more than 20 years. "We were planning to have 30 guests for a family party because it was our 30th wedding anniversary. There was a large cardboard box from the new barbeque, so I decided to drop it into the local tip on my way to fetch ice from the supermarket."

Mr Sharpe arrived at the Bentley Moor Lane waste facility just after mid-day. "I took the flattened box out of the car and walked up the ramp for cardboard waste," he said. "At the top of the ramp I passed it to one of the employees who made sure that correct waste went into the correct skip.

"I turned around to come down the ramp and took one step," he said. "I felt my left foot slip on the surface and at the same time my right foot twisted and stuck on the ramp. I put my hands behind me to break my fall, and all of my weight went onto my right thigh as I slid 10 feet down to the bottom of the ramp.

"I knew instantly that I had broken my leg," said Mr Sharpe. "A helpful couple ran to my aid and someone called an ambulance. I asked someone to get my phone from my car so I could call my wife and tell her to cancel the party and come to the tip."

Mr Sharpe was taken to Doncaster Royal Infirmary for emergency treatment, where he was admitted and scheduled for surgery on his broken right leg.

"The operation was to try and straighten and fix the bone into place using metal work," said Mr Sharpe. "Doctors put a large bolt through the knee and a plate up the thighbone with five or six screws at the top to keep the bone in position. But that didn't work, and then things just got worse."

Over the next two years, Mr Sharpe suffered a catalogue of problems arising from the injury, including a number of painful infections. Declan Woods, a personal injury specialist with Fentons Solicitors, said Mr Sharpe's injury left him requiring knee replacement surgery.

"Incredibly, Mr Sharpe suffered anaphylactic shock after the knee replacement operation in December 2007, which could have proved fatal," said Mr Woods. "Although he recovered, by this point he was in extreme pain and could only walk 10 to 15 metres with the aid of crutches. Ongoing infections in his knee led to him being admitted to hospital on numerous occasions throughout 2008 and 2009, for treatment to relieve pain and swelling.

"Later in 2009, a professor at the hospital said Mr Sharpe appeared to have a deep infection to his knee which could jeopardise a further knee replacement," said Mr Woods. "He suggested he amputate the right leg above the knee. Obviously the news was devastating to Mr Sharpe."

But after requesting a further opinion, Mr Sharpe was referred to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, where he is now undergoing treatment which will hopefully save his leg and repair the damaged knee.

"I will find out in February if the infection has cleared and if I can have a new knee replacement operation," said Mr Sharpe. "This has been a nightmare. For the last four years my wife has had to help me wash, dress and use the bathroom, and I've been unable to work at all. We now face having to move into a single-storey home because the state of my leg makes it impossible to climb stairs.

"Now that the compensation claim has been settled, my family and I can concentrate on moving on with our lives," he said.

How can Fentons help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to injuries sustained in trips, slips and falls. If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.