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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 16:38 GMT
2.7 m for injured farm worker
Insurers are concerned by the number of farm accidents
A court today approved a compensation deal of 2.7m for a farm worker who suffered severe brain damage when he fell through an unsafe roof.

John Cook, 35, needed emergency surgery and was in a coma for several days after falling through a roof he was repairing at the Cheesbrough family's farm in Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland.

The accident, on 7 February 1994, rendered Mr Cook incapable of looking after himself properly and he will need round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.

The Cheesbrough family today accepted liability, at the High Court sitting in Newcastle, by admitting they should not have asked employees to work on a potentially-unsafe roof without proper training and equipment.

'Personality change'

John Davis, from Mr Cook's solicitors Irwin Mitchell, said outside court: "It was touch and go as to whether or not he would survive the fall at all,

"Although he is now able to walk for short distances and has some independence, John needs care, constant supervision and assistance for even the most routine tasks."

Mr Cook had worked on the farm for nine years before to the accident.

His family believe his entire personality has been dramatically changed by the damage he suffered in the fall.

We, as the main insurer of the agricultural industry, are very concerned with the number of accidents involving both farmers and farm workers

NFU Mutual
Mr Cook was treated for a fractured skull at Newcastle General Hospital immediately after the accident.

In the summer of 1994 he was sent to Hartside Neuro-Behavioural Unit in Newcastle for treatment for severe psychiatric damage.

He remained at Hartside until February 1996 before moving in to a house opposite his parents, Donald and Joyce, where he is cared for by a team of care workers and family members.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Mr Davis said: "John's personality has changed greatly and he will never fully recover from his injuries.

"Fortunately his family and carers ensure John receives the medication and therapy he needs and this compensation will meet the cost of this."

Risk management

The money will be paid into a trust fund by the National Farmers Union's insurers, NFU Mutual.

A spokesman for the insurers said: "We are very pleased that the settlement has been made which will enable Mr Cook's family to help provide him with the things he needs to live to the best possible degree with his injuries.

"We, as the main insurer of the agricultural industry, are very concerned with the number of accidents involving both farmers and farm workers.

"We now provide a risk management service to farmers that looks at all aspects of safety issues in their workplace."

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See also:

07 Dec 01 | England
Farm death prompts safety review
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