John was employed as a fabricator welder for a company supplying products to the mechanical market in West Bromwich. He had worked there for around 23 years. Before his accident, John lived in West Bromwich with his wife, Eileen. He was an active man, regularly running and cycling.
John and Eileen have two children, and shortly before the accident, they had become proud grandparents for the third time.
On 21 September 2018, John arrived at work at around 4.50am. He worked until about 6.45am. John was walking back to the locker room, to go to the bathroom, when he was hit from behind by a forklift truck. He was knocked over to the side, and the forklift truck then reversed back over John causing significant crush injuries to both legs.
Despite having several operations, due to the severity of his injuries, John underwent below the knee amputation of his right leg on 3 October 2018. At the same time, the medical team attempted to reconstruct his left leg. This procedure was unsuccessful, and John underwent below the knee amputation of his left leg on 9 October 2018.
Recovery and rehabilitation
John was an inpatient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham until 30 October 2018, when he was transferred to Sandwell Hospital. He was discharged from Sandwell Hospital on 5 November 2018. At this time, he was in a wheelchair and hadn’t started his prosthetic rehabilitation.
John was discharged from Sandwell Hospital to his daughter’s home. Unfortunately, John couldn’t move back into the family home as it was unsuitable for his needs. This meant John had to live apart from Eileen until a suitable property could be found.
After an initial period of rehabilitation, John and Eileen moved to a rental bungalow in South Derbyshire. This allowed them to live together again, and also gave John easy access to Dorset Orthopaedic in Burton where he was undergoing his prosthetic rehabilitation.
Senior Associate in our Personal Injury team Chris Smith was instructed by John to bring a claim for damages against his employer on 9 October 2018, only 18 days after his accident. Chris made early contact with the defendants’ insurance company, who agreed to the release of an interim payment and the instruction of a case manager to coordinate John’s rehabilitation, within 10 days of Chris’ instruction.
Chris liaised with the defendants and the Health and Safety Executive on John’s behalf and secured an early admission of liability. This early admission of liability and agreement of funding enabled John to focus on his recovery and rehabilitation.
There was a collaborative relationship with the defendants insurers throughout the claim. They provided regular interim payments to fund John and Eileen’s new temporary accommodation, as well as John’s rehabilitation and bespoke prosthetics.
As a result of the UK being in lockdown due to Covid-19, John’s case settled following a ‘virtual’ settlement meeting in April 2020. The settlement included a significant provision for his future prosthetics needs.
The settlement has enabled John and Eileen to plan for the future, and they are now looking for a new family home.
Life Beyond Injury
John has returned to running, cycling, swimming and golf with specialist prosthetic limbs, and is again playing an active part in the life of his children and grandchildren.
John says of Stewarts:
“Stewarts has high standards and stands alone with the highest calibre in professionalism – ‘the Stewarts standard’. They are pioneers who are leading the way for victims and families of life-changing injuries.
“The settlement has given me security and stopped me worrying about the future. Although the future is uncertain for me, I know the funds will cover every eventuality. Eileen and I are looking to buy our forever home.”
John’s wife, Eileen commented:
“Having Stewarts on board meant we have felt protected and shielded from John’s employers following John’s accident at work in 2018. As John lay in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, we were at a loss to know what to do. We didn’t know whether he would live or die, or if the hospital could save his leg/legs. I was feeling alone, powerless and broken-hearted.
“My daughter scoped out solicitors and sent me a link. I sent an email from hospital to someone at Stewarts; I didn’t know who they were or whether they could help me. I then got a call back from a gentleman who was on holiday in Greece, Scott Rigby. Scott listened to me and reassured me that I wouldn’t be alone and that he would discuss John’s situation within Stewarts.
“Both John and I liked working with one solicitor, Chris Smith, and one paralegal consistently throughout. Chris was always available and a reassuring presence in our daily lives, visiting John and I in hospital, meeting us face-to-face, as well as communicating via email, and on phone, conference and video conference calls. Stewarts really understood the barriers John and I were facing on a daily basis.
“The team listened to our concerns and focused on getting us back to some kind of normality. They instructed independents experts, who helped highlight pitfalls before they happened. Although we went through very dark days emotionally and physically, Stewarts were there guiding us and supporting us to focus on positives – they were a reassuring presence.
“Chris has an unbelievable deep understanding of the trauma and the impact it’s had on John and our family life. Chris has always responded to my calls, emails and texts immediately. He is always listening and coaching us to solve any number of issues we have faced daily, including the time we spent apart, attending HSE interviews, looking for property to lease, amputation issues, structuring our day, the list is endless. Stewarts enabled us to focus on John’s rehabilitation.
“Since then, John has managed to return to cycling, the gym, swimming, fishing, going to the golf range and engaging in activities with our grandchildren.
“The settlement has in part been used to get John mobile and independent. He has had driving lessons in an adapted vehicle, trialled different cars at a mobility event, leased an adapted car, and purchased a new Land Rover to fit his wheelchairs and prosthetic legs.
“This has enabled John to join a gym and golf club, helped develop a daily structure, implement a variety of exercises on a daily basis while integrating and engaging with members of the public. In turn, this has helped John start to gain body confidence. He has hired a personal trainer for a one-to-one structured regime.
“John has also joined Burton Athletics Running Club, where he is coached on a one-to-one basis to run on running blades/prosthetics. He had been due to compete in an open competition in March 2020, but unfortunately, it was cancelled due to Covid-19. This would have been his first running competition ever – in a 100-metre sprint. He will hopefully be returning soon to the track.
“Although John was an occasional fisherman, he has recently joined a club and is able to go more regularly. He is now able to enjoy fishing days with our son and son-in-law and some great male bonding.”
John is starting to document his rehabilitation progress and his journey back to activity on his Instagram page. You can follow his journey here.
Life beyond injury
We have teamed up with other clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries to tell their stories of Life Beyond Injury. Please visit the Life Beyond Injury webpages here.
We hope that by sharing these stories, newly injured people can see that with the right support they too can overcome adversity to lead full and active lives.
You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Personal Injury pages.
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