A bricklayer left permanently disabled and unable to return to work after breaking his back in a rooftop fall has received compensation.

The 55-year-old, from Pity Me in County Durham fell from the roof at a building site in Hebburn, South Tyneside in July 2009 after the ladder his employer made him use slipped.

He had asked bosses at George Howe Plumbing and Heating Ltd if he could use a scaffolding platform to access the house’s chimney to fit a new copex. He was told he would be safe using cat ladders, which lie flat across the roof.

But he fell 20 feet to the ground, landing on his back, when the ladder slipped. He fractured his spine in two places and needed major surgery to put metal rods in his back.

Following years of recovery his spine has healed well but he has been left with ongoing pain and damage to his bladder.

It means he can no longer lift heavy items, undertake DIY or work in a physical job.

He also suffers from anxiety and depression and has received extensive treatment to help him cope. He hopes he will eventually return to some sort of employment in the future.

Contacted personal injury experts Thompsons Solicitors for advice

Following the accident he contacted personal injury experts Thompsons Solicitors for advice. Thompsons argued that a scaffolding platform should have been provided to prevent an accident.

George Howe admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for a six figure sum.

The victim said: “My life has changed entirely since this accident, including both my physical and mental health. As a previously active person I find it difficult to accept that I can no longer do the things I used to do.

“I miss work but I know I’d be unable to cope with even a part time non manual role right now. The most frustrating thing is knowing that I’d asked to use the scaffolding platform but was told it wasn’t available and to get on with the job using the cat ladder. If we’d been able to use a platform I wouldn’t be in this situation now.”

A brain injury specialist from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Working at height regulations are in place to make sure employers provide the correct equipment to reduce the risk of this type of accident to the lowest level.

“This employer failed to appropriately assess the risk and even ignored its worker’s request to use a platform. At Thompsons we are experienced in dealing with claims like this which involve serious, life changing injury. We work hard to obtain the best possible outcome for our clients including payments for loss of earnings as well as private therapies, aids and equipment which may help their recovery from such devastating injuries.”