Dad-of-three Hugh Copeland sought legal help from Thompsons Solicitors through his Unite the Union membership, after a fall from the bed of his lorry left him with severe injuries.
The accident happened on June 4 2018, when Mr Copeland, who was employed by John Miller Ltd, was transporting timber room dividers on behalf of Space4 – a manufacturing company in Birmingham.
Each stack of dividers should have been secured for transit by being nailed together so that none of the panels became loose.
However, when Mr Copeland was travelling on the M6 near Knutsford, a fellow lorry driver flagged an issue with his load, and after parking, he found that one of the room dividers had become loose.
Mr Copeland couldn’t keep driving with an insecure load so he climbed onto the trailer to attempt to put the divider back in its place. As he was doing so, one of the panels gave way, knocking him off the trailer and causing him to fall five feet to the ground.
Mr Copeland, who doesn’t remember anything after he fell because he lost consciousness, was airlifted to hospital where he was treated for a bleed to the brain, skull fractures, rib fractures, a chest injury and a brain hematoma.
As a result of the accident, he has long lasting injuries including the loss of 30 per cent of his hearing in his left ear and tinnitus.
Mr Copeland said: “I continue to suffer with pain and weakness in the left side of my body. I have no strength to lift anything like I used to, and I struggle with memory loss.
“I’m lucky that my wife was by my side throughout my recovery as, in the beginning, she had to help me do even the most simple tasks, such as washing and going to the toilet. Due to back pain I had to sleep in a chair for a long time, and even now I still use grab rails at home.
"Whilst I’ve regained a lot of my physical independence, the accident has had a huge psychological impact.”
Following an intense rehabilitation process, Mr Copeland returned to work in March 2021 after regaining his HGV licence the month before.
Sam Nicholson, solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors who represented Mr Copeland, said: “This is a classic example of someone cutting corners on health and safety and, due to their negligence, Hugh’s life has changed forever.
“We are glad to have held the employers to account and no doubt caused them to improve their working systems since this unnecessary accident.”
Ritchie James, north west regional secretary at Unite the Union, added: “We are proud to have helped our member obtain the compensation his injuries call for. Although no amount of money can erase the failings of Hugh’s employer, through our legal service, he has been able to keep 100 per cent of his settlement.”