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More than £1m for Bristol man brain damaged by scaffold pole

13 Jun 12 A construction worker left brain damaged after being hit on the head by a scaffolding pole has secured a seven figure settlement.

Richard Chodkiewicz
Richard Chodkiewicz

Father of five, Richard Chodkiewicz, 54, from Bristol, was left with horrific, life changing injuries after being hit on the head by a scaffolding pole that fell 18 floors down a lift shaft.

As previously reported, the accident happened while he was working on the construction of the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bristol’s Broad Quay development in July 2008.

He was airlifted to Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital and underwent emergency surgery, spending more than six weeks in both intensive care and the high dependency unit before undergoing more than 12 months of tough rehabilitation. He was finally able to return home almost 18 months after the accident but requires 24 hour care.

Specialist workplace injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell secured the care package to ensure he can get the specialist lifelong care and rehabilitation he now needs.

Lift company, Hoistway Ltd, which was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) last year, admitted liability for failing to protect Mr Chodkiewicz while he was working on their behalf.

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Deborah Bigwood, a serious injury specialist at law firm Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office, represented the Chodkiewicz family. She said: “Richard is extremely lucky to be alive after this horrific incident.  It is a testament to his determination and the loving support of his family that he has battled hard to make progress in his rehabilitation. However the fact remains that he has been left with a significant, permanent brain injury which means that he will never be able to live an independent life or return to work.

“Although no amount of money will ever turn back the clock, today’s settlement will provide Richard with a care package that provide the support that is so vital as well as much needed financial security for his family as Richard is sadly no longer able to act as the main earner.”

During the criminal prosecution brought by the HSE against Hoistway and main contractor, Miller Construction, it was revealed that a scaffolding pole had been tied to a plumb line and was being used as a makeshift ‘plumb bob’ – a piece of metal that hangs down to ensure the construction is straight and aligned.

The pole, which had not been secured properly, came loose as it was being winched 18 storeys up inside the lift shaft and fell to the base of the shaft, striking Richard who was working below.

Bristol Crown Court sentenced Miller Construction and Hoistway Ltd in June 2011 to fines of £40,000 and £70,000 respectively, plus costs, after both parties previously pleaded guilty to health and safety failings.

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