Joseph Shovlin, from Stockton-on-Tees, was just 17 years old when he was involved in an industrial incident at a factory in Washington in July 2016, during which the machinery crushed him.

He was rushed to the Major Trauma Centre at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle Upon Tyne, where he received urgent, life-saving medical treatment, including an operation to remove part of his skull to alleviate the swelling on his brain.

He remained in intensive care and in a coma for more than six months, only regaining consciousness in January 2017 before being transferred to Walkergate Park Centre for his rehabilitation to continue and eventually moving back to the family home in Stockton in November 2017.

The injuries he sustained were so severe that they will continue to affect his eyesight, taste, hearing, balance and speech for the rest of his life. 

Following the incident, Joseph set his sights on rebuilding his life, determined to return to education to pursue his newly acquired passion for comic books. His legal team set about securing interim payments, which allowed Joseph to begin his recovery journey as quickly as possible while his claim against his former employer was still ongoing. 

The secured funds enabled Joseph to access specialist therapies, care and equipment needed for rehabilitation and recovery. They provided him with some financial security for the future, as his injuries meant he could no longer pursue a career in engineering.

His rehabilitation journey included a residential stay at Calvert Reconnections in Cumbria, a specialist centre that provides rehabilitation for adults with acquired brain injuries, and access to specialist physiotherapy at Optimise Neuro Rehabilitation Centre Crawcrook.

Thanks to his hard work and the support from specialist therapists early in his rehabilitation, he enrolled in a foundation course in art at Teesside University just ten months after his discharge from the hospital, a course he passed with flying colours.

Joseph is now 25, studying for his Masters degree in Comics and Graphic Novels at Teesside University, and living in a shared student house with support from a dedicated care team.

Commenting on his injuries and the road to recovery, Joseph said that while it had been a difficult journey, he was ‘very much looking forward to the future and working towards his goal of one day publishing his online graphic novel’.

He said: “I am very grateful to the Thompsons team, who advised and supported me through a difficult time. They provided access to a sophisticated support network vital to getting me through University.”

Joseph has since used his experiences for inspiration and is currently working on a project to support others who have experienced a traumatic head injury. ‘Time on the Page’ explains the connections and similarities between Joseph and comics regarding how time is experienced and displayed.

Victoria Clark a workplace injury lawyer from Thompsons Solicitors, added: “Joseph is a very inspirational young man who, despite the severity of his injuries, has never wavered in his ambition to get his life back on track.

“To help him achieve his goals, we knew the importance of ensuring he had access to a comprehensive rehabilitation programme as quickly as possible following the incident. 

“To facilitate that, we worked to secure interim payments that would provide him with access to treatments including physiotherapy, neurorehabilitation, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and psychological support.”

“Joseph has been supported throughout his journey by his family, and I know they are extremely relieved that he now has the funds needed to provide him with financial security for the rest of his life.

“Having seen some of his comic book creations over the years, I do not doubt that he will go on to be very successful, and I look forward to watching him continue to develop his skills and pursue his dreams.”