Manchester worker receives £390,000 settlement after hotel roof fall

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Manchester worker receives £390,000 settlement after hotel roof fall

17th July 2015

A Manchester man who has endured months of pain after a horrific accident at work has received £390,000 in an out of court settlement.

Despite undergoing eight operations, the Tameside man – who asked not to be named - continues to suffer with severe pain in his lower leg and ankle after slipping on a hotel rooftop more than two years ago.

The man, who is in his 40s, seriously injured his ankle whilst working as maintenance manager for a city centre hotel in January 2011. He went on to develop ‘compartment syndrome’, a painful condition which occurs when there is a problem with the supply of oxygen and nutrients from the blood to the muscles and nerves, causing severe pain and potentially leading to nerve damage.

“I’ve worked there for more than 10 years,” said the injured man, who still works at the hotel. “On the day of the accident there was water coming through the ceiling into the boardroom, and as there was a conference in this room I needed to prioritise getting it fixed.”

After arranging for a roofing contractor to attend, he took him onto the roof to identify the source of the leak. “The layout of the hotel means that the only access to our roof is via the roof of the adjoining building,” he said. “Unfortunately when we reached the roof, I discovered a huge puddle on the adjoining roof - about two inches deep and covering an area of around 100 square metres.”

The two men had taken the only access point to the roof, and there was no other way of inspecting the leak than heading past this large puddle. “I was wearing work boots, but even still I was being careful because of the large amount of water. I’d managed to step over some ducting as I made my way across the roof when my left foot slipped out from under me.

“I fell sideways and immediately felt excruciating pain in my lower left leg and ankle. I knew I’d badly injured myself because I heard something snap in my leg as I fell,” he said. “I lay in the pool of water, screaming in agony and shouting for the roofer to get help.”

The roof was some 70 metres above the street, so the injured man was lying in the water for more than two hours as paramedics worked to first stabilise and then move him. “They were having difficulties because of how slippery the roof was,” he said. “I was treated with gas and air for the pain, and the paramedics sent for the HART team.”

The Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) was set up to treat patients in particularly hazardous areas, with medics specially trained to deal with people in confined spaces or high off the ground. “They were going to use a hydraulic platform to get me down, but when that wasn’t possible they removed some fencing and I was carried down a fire escape before an ambulance took me to hospital,” he said.

He was eventually taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary, where he was treated fora double fracture to his ankle and shin.

“He had to have metal plates and pins inserted into his leg in order to rebuild his ankle and hold the bones in position,” said John Hutchings, a specialist serious injuries lawyer who represents the man. “He also underwent skin graft surgery, removing skin from his thigh in order to help repair the ankle.”

Mr Hutchings, a specialist serious injuries lawyer with Fentons Solicitors, part of Slater & Gordon, said that the victim then faced weeks of surgery and treatment as a result of his injuries. “He remained at Manchester Royal Infirmary for four weeks, during which time he underwent two operations to try to close the wound which had been caused to release his compartment syndrome,” said Mr Hutchings. “When this was unsuccessful on both occasions, he was then transferred to the Plastic Surgery department of Wythenshawe Hospital, where he stayed for a further two weeks.”

Mr Hutchings said that during his period in hospital, his client endured constant and excruciating pain.

“He told me that about a week after the incident, whilst in hospital, he was suffering the worst pain that he has ever experienced in his whole life,” said Mr Hutchings. “He said that the pain was so bad that if doctors had said he could have his leg amputated, he would have agreed without hesitation. He was in so much pain that he found it difficult to describe with words.”

The injured man lost more than three-and-a-half stone in weight during his time in hospital, and following his release home he endured several more operations and is still unable to walk around without crutches.

“Our medical expert concluded that the compartment syndrome will without a doubt affect his ability to work in the future,” said Mr Hutchings. “Thankfully his employer rates him so highly that they have modified his duties to enable him to carry on working there. Nevertheless the injury has affected his mobility and severely impaired his ability to carry out any work that involves him walking or standing.”

Mr Hutchings said an inspection of the roof found that two drainage holes were blocked, which had prevented water passing through them and causing the hazardous puddle to develop.

“Although my client’semployers admitted primary liability for his injuries, we still had to prove that the building owners were also in part responsible for failing to clear this blockage,” said Mr Hutchings. “He had been up on this same area of the roof many times before and hadinformed the building’s owners about the drainage issue – most recently just three months before the incident.”

Over the two years following the accident, the defendant insurers made numerous offers to settle the injured man’s claim, but these were all rejected and proved to be a fraction of the final settlement secured. “Throughout this time we obtained interim payments totalling £8,500 to help with his care and rehabilitation,” said Mr Hutchings. “After obtaining expert evidence from some of the leading specialists in trauma and orthopaedic surgery, occupational therapy, care and psychiatric therapy, we negotiated a gross settlement of £390,100 on his behalf.

“The pain and suffering my client has endured is beyond doubt,” said Mr Hutchings. “I am delighted that we have been able to secure such a substantial settlement, which will ensure that his significant medical and rehabilitation costs can all be paid and enables him to focus on his recovery.”