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Injury at work

Mr C’s job was to attend sites where a fault had been reported, and to open up the road to reveal the pipes and allow the engineers to have access to them to fix them.

The normal method of working involved using an angle grinder to get through the tarmac of the road surface, and lift this up using a long handled graft. If there was sand or soil underneath, this would be dug out using a jack hammer if necessary, for example if the ground was very compacted, contained numerous stones, or there was concrete.

On the day of the accident Mr C was working with one of the defendant’s employees, Mr J. He hadn’t worked with this man before. Mr J had been working for the defendants and on similar jobs for years, and he had a street works ticket. He was therefore effectively the foreman. Mr J and Mr C had cut a square in the tarmac of the road surface, and Mr C was just leaning forward with the long handled graft to lift up the square of tarmac when he was suddenly hit on the back of the head with a pickaxe being wielded by Mr J.

personal injury claim was made against both companies alleging breaches of numerous regulations including the Construction Health Safety and Welfare Regulations, the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations and, vicarious liability for the actions of Mr J.

The claim was defended

As a result of the accident Mr C – who almost died, had a compound depressed skull fracture with fragments of bone deep into the brain tissue. He was transferred to the neurosurgical unit of Radcliffe Infirmary where an operation was undertaken to explore the wound. He had post traumatic amnesia of approximately nine hours, leading to the diagnosis of a moderate head injury. He was kept in hospital for three weeks, and had a possible epileptic fit a month after discharge.

Mr C was left with typical head injury symptoms namely headaches, irritability and mood swings, memory and concentration problems and tiredness. He also developed some psychiatric consequences including an adjustment disorder with depression, and a specific phobia of situations involving physical activity or sports, noisy crowded places, and people being close behind him, for fear of somebody knocking the injury site.

The neurological evidence indicated there was a significant risk of post traumatic epilepsy (in the region of 60%) for five years reducing over a further two to three years to that of the general population.

Proceedings were issued in January 2004, and employment consultancy evidence was obtained. This and the medical evidence indicated there was no physical or medical reason why Mr C was not fit for employment already, although it was felt that he might need 12 months rehabilitation/training before being able to actually resume employment. He was advised not to return to heavy work involving use of machinery in view of the epilepsy risk.

Claim settled 

The case was listed for trial in October 2005. The defendants finally entered into negotiations and the personal injury claim was settled for £300,000. 

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury after an accident then contact our specialist personal injury team on 0118 952 7137 or email