River boat pilot compensated after fall at work

A 55-year-old Merseyside man who suffered injuries after a fall at work has been awarded compensation with Unite Legal Services’ help.

Working as a self-employed river boat pilot from the Wirral, Iain Baird was boarding a vessel in the summer of 2018 when he had a serious accident. The rope ladder he was climbing - which weighs more than 200kg - snapped, not only causing the man to fall but the ladder to land atop him.

The accident left him not being able to work for a month, as he suffered a significant head injury and back pain. The physical trauma has been long lasting as the back pain is still present after four years. Mr Baird, who is now anxious when climbing ladders at work, has to deal with confidence issues on a regular basis.

Mr Baird said: “The accident has had a debilitating effect on my life, physically and mentally. I now suffer from anxiety at times, which is predominantly triggered when I’m having to board or disembark ships with ladders similar to the one that failed, resulting in my injury.

“I don’t want to think about what might have happened if it had broken slightly later. If I was a few steps higher I would have fallen back into the water, with the tangled ladder landing on top of me. It could have been fatal.”

He reached out to Unite Legal Services for help with a compensation claim.

Following complicated legal proceedings with numerous defendants from various jurisdictions, Unite Legal Services helped Iain secure a substantial settlement.

Ritchie James, Unite North West Regional Secretary, said: “If Iain had gone to a non-specialist high street law firm they would not only have struggled to deal with the claim, he would have had at least 25 per cent deducted from his compensation which - due to his Unite membership - didn’t happen. He got 100% of his damages.”

The compensation he received acts as a safety net for Mr Baird as he now faces the very real possibility of being unable to work in the future.

He added: “My union seemed to never stop recruiting more and more expert witnesses with maritime systems knowledge to support my claim, despite all the challenges posed by the defendants and the pandemic.

“This hard work proved vital in securing a successful compensation settlement in a case that felt at times like it was David vs Goliath.”