More than £1 million for Bristol man hit by scaffold pole
A FATHER who suffered devastating head injuries while working to convert one of Bristol's tallest buildings into a hotel has received more than £1 million in compensation.
Richard Chodkiewicz, pictured, was working as a lift engineer during the construction of the Radisson Blu hotel in Broad Quay when he was hit by a falling scaffolding pole, which was being used as an improvised plumb line, in July 2008.
The incident left him fighting for his life in Frenchay Hospital – and while he survived, the brain damage the father-of-five suffered left him with limited movement, speech difficulties and memory problems.
Two firms responsible for building the city centre hotel – Miller Construction (UK) and Hoistway Ltd – received fines totalling £142,000 for health and safety breaches in a hearing at Bristol Crown Court last June.
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And yesterday an undisclosed seven-figure sum was approved by a High Court judge in the city to cover the 54-year-old's loss of earnings and the 24-hour care he now requires.
Mr Chodkiewicz, who lives in Easter Compton, was working at the bottom of a lift shaft in the 18-storey building – formerly the headquarters of the Bristol & West Building Society – when the scaffolding pole fell more than 14 floors onto him. He was wearing a hard hat.
At Frenchay Hospital he had emergency surgery and then spent more than six weeks in intensive care. Rehabilitation followed and he was not able to return home until almost 18 months after the injury.
The compensation was awarded to Mr Chodkiewicz after lift company Hoistway Ltd admitted liability for failing to protect him at work. It will cover the specialist lifelong care and rehabilitation he now needs.
His wife Karen, 50, said: "The last three and a half years have been an absolute roller coaster of emotions.
"When I was initially told about the accident, I rushed to Frenchay Hospital to find Richard in intensive care and unconscious. We were told it was highly unlikely he would survive.
"When he finally regained consciousness, I had to deal with the shocking news that his brain injury was so serious that he would have lifelong problems. Richard is a fighter and, thanks to the fantastic work of the rehabilitation specialists at Frenchay Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, who have been so supportive, he has made a remarkable recovery.
"However, the fact remains that Richard will never be able to lead a normal independent life. He has no concept of anything that happens on the left side of his body and he now walks with a stick. His short-term memory is very poor and he needs constant care and monitoring for his own safety.
"Richard's long-term memory has also been affected and at times he has difficulty remembering the names of his own children, which is heartbreaking."
The couple were represented by Deborah Bigwood, a serious injury specialist at law firm Irwin Mitchell's Bristol office. She said: "Although no amount of money will ever turn back the clock, today's settlement will provide Richard with a vital care package as well as much-needed financial security for his family."