Member receives £70,000 in compensation after life-changing fall

A former electrician has received £70,000 in compensation after being injured in a fall at work that forced him to retire early and accelerated a pre-existing arthritic condition.

The Unite member, who was 63 at the time, was walking down a set of steps outside a block of flats in Bristol when two paving slabs slipped from under him and he fell seven feet onto the concrete below.

He didn’t initially feel any pain and drove to his next job, however, by the time he arrived he felt a shooting pain in his back.

Residents at the block of flats had previously complained to the local council about the unsafe area but the loose slabs were never replaced.

He visited his GP who found that he had badly bruised his hip and shoulder, and had also strained his back. The accident accelerated symptoms of a pre-existing osteo-arthritic condition, and although he initially returned to work for two months, the pain forced him on sick leave and after nine months of trying to get back he was dismissed by his employer.

He needed spinal surgery to treat trapped nerves caused in the fall and he continues to have injections in his shoulder and hip every three months to relieve the pain.

The member contacted Unite Legal Services to pursue a compensation claim.

He said: “I was 63 at the time of the accident and was planning to work past 65 so I could retire at the same time as my wife. This fall put an end to all of that and has left me reliant on injections to ease the pain across my body.

“What’s even more frustrating is that the woman who came to see if I was okay after my accident had also fallen on the slabs herself and had complained, but nothing was done to fix the problem.

“I have kept up my union membership after my retirement because of the excellent work of Unite Legal Services, who worked hard to make sure I received compensation for my wage loss and for what happened to me.”

Stuart Davies, South West regional legal officer from Unite the Union, said: “The local council ignored its obligation to safely maintain public areas and failed to respond to reports of a potentially lethal hazard.

“The council’s negligence is at the expense of our member, who has been forced into early retirement and is in constant pain. A straightforward maintenance job could have fixed the loose slabs, preventing injury and the council an expensive legal battle.”