Small acts of heroism happen every day, and many do not receive the accolade they deserve. One such hero is Paul Turnbull who risked his own life to save others. Mr Turnbull was working on a building site in Northumberland, when Fraser Rowland, a lorry driver was delivering roof trusses. During the delivery process, the load was not properly secured, causing some of the trusses to fall onto the men working on the site. Mr Turnbull, observing that the trusses were endangering his work colleagues, pushed the men clear, only to be crushed himself. He was pinned under the fallen wooden roof trusses face down in freshly poured hot tarmac. Thankfully he survived, but his injuries were extensive, including deep burns to his face and a traumatic back injury, which led to paralysis from the waist down.
Mr Rowland was handed a suspended jail sentence and banned from driving for two years. Mr Turnbull, in an interview stated, “No matter what happens, no amount of time will ever make up for the fact I have been left paralysed which has resulted in my life changing forever, as well as the day to day lives of my family members who care for me. I would never want another family to go through the despair and torment that we have all experienced since the day of this incident. No sentence will ever give me the life back that I had before this day, but this is about holding an individual responsible for his dangerous actions”.
Accidents such as the one that befell Mr Turnbull change the lives of victims in an instant, all due to the negligence of another person to carry out their job properly. Those left with paralysis have their lives turned upside down, and for many, their injuries are permanent.
What are the different types of paralysis?
Paralysis has a range of presenting symptoms and causal factors, and may be permanent or temporary. Those with paralysis are unable to move part of their body, due to illness, injury, or even poisoning, including, the hands, arms, legs, or face.
Depending on the damage caused to the nerves at the site of the injury, those left with paralysis may be left with some limited control (partial) of the affected muscle groups, or in more severe cases, no control at all (complete).
When muscles are left in a paralysed state, they may be ‘flaccid’, becoming overly relaxed and loose, or ‘spastic’, whereby they are overly tensed and tight. And although there is no control, there can be uncontrolled spasming or twitching of the affected muscles.
The different types of generalised paralysis are referred to as:
- Monoplegia – affecting one arm or le
- Hemiplegia – affecting one arm and one leg on the same side
- Paraplegia – affecting both legs
- Quadriplegia (or tetraplegia) – affecting both arms and both legs
What is the prognosis for those who are paralysed after an accident?
As with most serious injuries, it is almost impossible to predict accurately the long-term prognosis of paralysis. The greater the extent of the damage, for example, if the spinal cord is severed leading to complete paralysis, the less likely a full recovery will be made. That being said, with new treatments (e.g. stem cell therapy), some recovery for patients is now possible. The key is to ensure that treatment and rehabilitation commences as soon as possible. In the case of spinal injuries, the sooner that the muscles below the site of the injury can be strengthened, the better the long-term outcome for the patient .
In practice, for the families of victims of serious accidents at work leading to paralysis, the best approach is to seek a specialist workplace injury solicitor because in doing so, a fully comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery programme can be put in place, in conjunction with the employer’s insurer (in cases of employer negligence) – as prioritised by the Rehabilitation Code and the personal injury pre-action protocol. By acting quickly and seeking the best recovery possible for your loved one, the possibility of a positive prognosis is maximised.
Can I claim compensation for paralysis due to a work accident?
By seeking the advice and guidance of a personal injury specialist in occupational accidents leading to paralysis, you greatly increase the prospects for the injured person, for three main reasons. Firstly, while you, or your family member is in hospital following the accident, a complete rehabilitation plan can be arranged to commence as soon as the immediate medical emergency is over. Secondly, money can be recovered from the negligent party to replace any lost earnings (current and future), and fund the multitude of costs which arise due to the accident (e.g. additional medical, counselling, hotel, transport costs, assistive equipment, and house modification).
Finally, we will seek funds to compensate for the physical and psychological losses you have suffered. To bring a claim for compensation, we will need to establish if the accident was due to the negligence of your employer. For example, were you trained properly, was the task you were doing safe, was the necessary safety equipment available, were you warned of a specific danger, or was the machine you were using well maintained?
If you or a loved one are now paralysed due to an accident resulting from the negligence of your employer, by acting quickly and robustly, we will ensure you receive the best possible compensation package.
Remember, your employer will expect you to make a claim for what you are owed – doing so will go a long way to repairing the damage caused to you, your finances, and your family.
At Russell Worth Solicitors we specialise in personal injury claims. If you have suffered a workplace injury and would like a free claim assessment, please call us now on 0800 028 2060 or complete our Online Claim Assessment.