Hudgell Solicitors secured damages of £300,000 for man who broke his ankle in two places during a fall at work and later had to have his leg amputated.
Harold Willbye was just three days into his job at a Hampshire-based demolition firm when he suffered breaks to the two main bones in his left ankle after his foot became trapped under a speaker which had fallen.
Colleagues at the firm drove him to hospital where he needed surgery to insert metal pins and plates to try and heal the break, but he was left unable to walk and spent months in a wheelchair as his bones failed to heal.
He later needed a stent inserting into his groin to help blood flow to the affected area following a blockage, but despite doctors’ best efforts, he eventually had to have his leg amputated below the knee nine months after the accident.
Having taken legal action through Hudgell Solicitors, the six-figure settlement was offered via the company’s insurers, on the basis that they took two-thirds of the responsibility for the accident.
It was alleged in the claim that the firm had failed to provide a safe place of work, failed to adopt a safe system of work and failed to risk assess or adequately risk assess the working practice, exposing their employee to ‘a foreseeable risk of personal injury.’
Despite the huge impact it has had on his life, Mr Willbye says he is determined to look forward with positivity.
He said: “It’s changed my life completely, but I don’t want to look back at the accident. I want to look forward. I have accepted it and I have to get on with it. What choice do I have?”
“When the accident happened, I was just in so much pain. I remember my colleagues picking me up and taking me to the hospital. Then, when I was in the wheelchair I couldn’t put any weight on my ankle.
“When it eventually came to losing my leg, I knew what the doctor was going to say before he said it as it just wouldn’t heal, but after he left, I broke down. Even though I knew what was coming, nothing can prepare you for hearing something like that.
“I was in three different hospitals during my care though and I met two soldiers who had returned from war zones. We got on so well and it put everything into perspective. They helped me to cope, along with my wife, Sue.”
The damages settlement was agreed and reflected the cost of prostheses, modifications required in his home, the care he has required since the accident and will require in the future care, earnings provisions, travel allowance and the cost of an automatic vehicle.
As part of the legal claim his employer’s insurers arranged an immediate needs assessment, which meant he received physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and psychological treatment to assist his recovery before the case was settled.
Mr Willbye, now 58, of Hampshire, will now have to take medication for the rest of his life, but has since taken a part-time job as a cleaner in a nursing home. He recently married and enjoyed his first holiday abroad to Majorca.
Sarah Morton, the solicitor who represented Mr Willbye in the case, of Hudgell Solicitors, said: “This accident had a huge impact on Mr Willbye on so many levels and his life has changed significantly since.
“Following this accident his lower leg never recovered as he already had some circulation and blood pressure issues, and he then had to have it amputated. This obviously caused considerable pain and distress and has had a life-changing impact.
“Through all of this Mr Willbye has dealt with what happened to him very well and has not let it hold him back. He has been determined to remain positive and has even found work he is able to cope with and is moving on.
“We were pleased that our representation meant that insurers arranged rehabilitation support early, helping our client to move forward as quickly as possible. We also hope the final settlement goes some way to compensating for the suffering he has endured and the difficulties he faces.”
Mr Willbye said the legal support of Hudgell Solicitors had been crucial to him staying positive through very difficult times.
“They have been fantastic and I’m really pleased with the outcome. If I called them for anything at any point, they always had time to speak to me, or they called me straight back.”