Unite member awarded £200,000 compensation after accident at work

A Unite member from Morecambe, Lancashire has secured £200,000 in compensation after he was seriously injured in a fall at work.

Huge Copeland, 56, was working as an HGV driver transporting timber room dividers at the time of the accident in June 2018. He had pulled over on the M6 after noticing the dividers had not been fastened correctly – as he climbed onto the truck to fix this, one of the panels gave way and knocked him to the ground.

Mr Copeland was knocked unconscious and rushed to hospital via an air ambulance, where medical staff confirmed he has sustained a bleed on the brain, a brain hematoma, chest injuries and fractures. Additionally, Mr Copeland developed tinnitus and lost 30 per cent of his hearing, and he also continues to suffer with pain and weakness in the left side of his body.

He said: “I have no strength to lift anything like I used to, and I struggle with memory loss.

“I’m lucky that my wife was by my side throughout my recovery as, in the beginning, she had to help me do even the simplest tasks, such as washing and going to the toilet. Due to back pain, I had to sleep in a chair for a long time, and even now I still use grab rails at home. While I’ve regained a lot of my physical independence, the accident has had a huge psychological impact.”

He turned to Unite Legal Services for support. The legal team investigated who was liable as his employer was John Miller Ltd but the load had been fastened by manufacturing firm Space4, who he was transporting goods for.

The claim against John Miller Ltd finally settled for £200,000 and he has since been able to return to work thanks to an intense rehabilitation process.

Ritchie James, North West regional secretary at Unite the Union, added: “We are proud to have helped our member obtain the compensation his injuries call for. Although no amount of money can erase the failings of Hugh’s employer, through our legal service, he has been able to keep 100 per cent of his settlement.”