David Knifton QC and Paul Kirtley recover over £1.6m for amputee

February 1, 2021

David Knifton QC and Paul Kirtley from Exchange Chambers have secured damages of over £1.63m on behalf of a 63-year-old man who suffered devastating injuries in an accident at work in 2018. The Claimant was employed as a fitter, where his tasks included maintenance of large slag carts. As he was removing the wheels from an inverted cart, the gearbox and axle suddenly collapsed and crushed his right leg, causing severe fractures of his femur and tibia. Tragically, following almost 12 months’ treatment, the Claimant developed a serious bone infection, leading to an above-knee amputation.

Investigations revealed that the cause of the collapse was that a number of the retaining bolts were missing or worn, leading to failure of the remaining bolts. Although primary liability was admitted, his employers maintained that the Claimant was in large part responsible for the accident, in failing to check the bolts and positioning himself under the axle when removing the wheels. They sought a 50% reduction for contributory negligence.

Through his union membership, the Claimant instructed leading personal injury solicitor Helen Shakespeare of Thompsons Solicitors. Careful and sensitive discussions with the client established that the Defendant had misunderstood his role in the task, and the reasons for the accident. Following discussions with the Defendant’s QC in August 2020, David Knifton QC was able to negotiate a liability split of 90%:10% in the Claimant’s favour, whilst rejecting an inadequate offer of £1m inclusive of costs.

At a JSM this week, to the obvious delight of the Claimant, David Knifton QC and Paul Kirtley negotiated a settlement worth over £1.63m, net of the liability split, in addition to payment of the Claimant’s legal costs.

Commenting on the outcome, David Knifton QC said: “I am delighted that we have achieved a settlement which will secure our client’s future after such a devastating injury. This case highlights once again the importance of carefully analysing the evidence and thoroughly understanding the client’s needs, enabling us to negotiate on both liability and quantum from a position of strength. At the same time, despite the fact that his rehabilitation has been hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic, we were able to use our combined experience to advise the Claimant on settlement parameters, notwithstanding incomplete medical evidence. As a result, to the enormous relief of the client, we were able to bring the claim to a successful conclusion at a relatively early stage, without the need to issue proceedings. A great piece of teamwork!”