A 35-year-old Middlesbrough man who underwent a lower limb amputation after being crushed and then dragged for six feet by a piece of machinery has secured a seven-figure compensation settlement with the help of Thompsons Solicitors.
Tom Perry was working as a heat treatment machine operative at Con Mech Engineers Ltd when he underwent a life-changing industrial accident in January 2012.
Whilst standing manually operating levers at a static framework, Tom was left with less than five inches clearance from a piece of heavy machinery which ran left to right along a set of railway tracks. A colleague operating the moving machinery was unaware Tom was there.
While the nature of the machining process required tight close passing tolerances between the static equipment and the moving machine, Con Mech Engineers Ltd should not have allowed manual operating in that area due to the foreseeable risks to the operator – something Tom found out to his considerable personal cost.
Unaware until it was too late, Tom's colleague started up the machine and set it off on its inevitable collision course. The machine proceeded to run into Tom, trapping both of his legs and dragging him six feet along the length of the railway track.
Conscious throughout, Tom called out to his colleague to reverse the machine in the hope that it would free his limbs however this failed to release him and it took over an hour for him to be freed by the fire service following which he was rushed to Durham University Hospital.
“The last thing I remember was lying in a hospital bed, with my legs covered, being asked by doctors whether I could feel anything as they probed my lower limbs,” said Tom.
“I had a small amount of sensation in my left foot but nothing at all on my right side from my toes up to my hip.”
Tom had suffered a cracked femur, multiple fractures to his left leg but, most significantly, irreparable damage to his right leg. As he lost consciousness under heavy sedation, Tom’s mother was left to make the agonising decision of whether or not to allow doctors to amputate his damaged right leg and she decided they should go ahead.
Tom underwent 14 hours of surgery to amputate his right leg above the knee and was hospitalised for five weeks before being discharged to begin a programme of rehabilitation. He contacted Thompsons Solicitors while he was in hospital in order to pursue a claim for compensation as he knew his future was going to be irrevocably changed.
Tom said: “Thompsons Solicitors were excellent and helped me get an interim payment allowing me to cover my immediate rehab costs when I left hospital and also to upgrade my NHS prosthesis – which I found uncomfortable and difficult to use – to a top of the range Genium X3.
“The difference having the compensation to fund the new prosthesis made was incredible and helped me on the road back to the things I loved doing before my accident, like climbing.”
Prior to his accident Tom had been a keen leisure climber and had taken a rope access course, which he had hoped to be able to use to switch careers. While in hospital, he decided that he wouldn’t let his accident stop him from climbing and after intensive (and ongoing) physiotherapy he was able to get back ‘on the wall’. In 2013, his determination saw him selected for the Team GB Paralympic climbing team.
David Robinson, a serious injury specialist at Thompsons who represented Tom, said: “Our team was proud to support Tom on his road to recovery and through hard work and sheer determination sporting success. Securing for him the funds he needed to have a state of the art prosthesis and specialist rehabilitation services was a high point.
“The interim payment gave Tom money to fund his ongoing rehabilitation needs and to obtain a prosthesis that allowed him to get on with his day to day life in greater comfort. The significant damages we secured on his behalf was structured in such a way as to ensure that his long term needs would be met and that he had access to the right support after what was a life-changing injury.”
Con Mech Engineers Ltd were prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive for failing to fix machine faults which then required employees, like Tom, to manually operate them in areas with insufficient protection or clearance areas between other equipment. Two days after Tom’s accident, the area around the static framework was permanently caged off.