Workplace injury settlement for young man who fell from height at dry dock | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Workplace injury settlement for young man who fell from height at dry dock

Emma Hall settled a workplace accident claim on behalf of her client King* who fell from height while carrying out maintenance works on a tourist cruise boat on the Thames.

King's accident occurred on his first day of working for the Thames Dry Docking Company. Along with other workers at the dry dock, he was asked to sandpaper and then paint the boats before they went back into service on the Thames. The workers were asked to erect scaffolding so the work could be carried out safely however, under instruction from the foreman, King was told to grab a nearby ladder and start sanding and painting the boat from the other end. 

While King was on the ladder, he suddenly lost balance and fell from height. He sustained a fracture to his ankle, a fracture to his fibula, and other soft tissue injuries. An ambulance was called and King was taken to Royal London Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to unite the fractures. 

While he was in hospital, King was evicted from his flat and so he spent several additional weeks in hospital before temporary accommodation could be found for him. King's immediate family live in Nigeria and so he had to rely on extended family members and friends for help once he was home. This meant that having the appropriate rehabilitation plan in place became a priority for King.

Despite undergoing a lot of therapy, King remained in pain and with mobility problems. He was discharged from NHS care, but he was clearly still struggling. Emma worked collaboratively with the insurers to arrange for King to be assessed by an orthopaedic surgeon on a private basis and after getting a second opinion, King was told he would need further surgery to remove the metalwork in place and to debride the soft tissue impingement in his ankle. 

Primary liability was established early in the case, however the insurers argued that while King was provided with a ladder, he was given strict instructions to only climb a few steps, to ensure he remained a safe distance from the ground. These instructions, however well intended, were in direct contravention of the detailed risk assessment provided for working on the dry dock, which said that ladders should only be used for access and short duration working of 30 minutes or less. It was clear that King should never have been asked to use the ladder for work at all, regardless of how many steps he was asked to climb. 

Once liability was settled, medico-legal reports were obtained which demonstrated that despite the extensive orthopaedic injuries King had suffered and his numerous operations, he had made a good physical recovery.   However, King would be unlikely to ever return to doing heavy manual labour on a construction site.  

At the time of his accident, King had a well-established history of working in the construction industry. With this no longer being an option, King had to find a new career. With agreement from the insurers, Emma arranged for King to be seen by a vocational rehabilitation therapist to support King with establishing a new career path.

Once King had recovered from his surgery, the insurers made an early offer of settlement, and upon consideration of King's prognosis and the medical evidence we had secured, Emma was able to successfully negotiate a six-figure settlement for King, to allow him to move on forward with his life.

Following settlement, King said: "I have to use this opportunity to thank Fieldfisher for helping me get through this claim and especially Emma who has been there for me from day one till end of my settlement. They should keep up the good work they are doing helping people like me that could not have gotten any help on their own after my accident. Thanks once more. King."

*Name changed

Contact us

For further information about work accident claims and personal injury claims, please call Emma Hall on 0330 460 6754 or email


All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win no fee. Find out more about no win no fee claims.

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Work Accident Claims