Page last updated at 14:27 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Blinded welder wins compensation

Mark Downs
Mr Downs will need life-long care

A welder left blinded and partially paralysed after being hit by a five and a half tonne metal sheet at work has won his fight for compensation.

Mark Downs was crossing the factory floor at Hadee Engineering in Sheffield when the sheet, being moved in a tandem lift, swung out of position.

The 39-year-old had to be resuscitated twice on the way to hospital and underwent a 19 hour operation.

Sheffield High Court ruled the firm was fully liable for the accident.

After the accident in 2007, Mr Downs spent months in hospital and had to undergo extensive rehabilitation.

It was an horrendous accident that never should have happened
Mother Sandra Downs

He has been left blind, paralysed down his left side and has also lost his sense of smell and taste and is expected to need life-long care.

Mr Downs's mother Sandra instructed brain injury experts from law firm Irwin Mitchell to investigate a civil claim against Hadee Engineering.

Breached regultations

Although Mr Downs, who had worked at the firm for more than 15 years, was using a designated walkway when the accident happened, his employers refused to accept full liability for the incident.

The claim was taken to trial at Sheffield High Court where a judge ruled the employers were fully liable.

The judge criticised the company for breaching a number of health and safety regulations, including failing to properly supervise the tandem lift and not carrying out a risk assessment.

Mark Downs in hospital after the accident
A judge ruled the firm had breached health and safety regulations

It was also ruled Mr Downs was entitled to 100% of the final settlement, which is now being calculated to cover his rehabilitation and life-long care needs.

Ms Downs said: "We've had our ups and downs but he's alive and that's the main thing."

She added: "It was an horrendous accident that never should have happened. It's happened, we've just got to live with it.

"We can't change anything. We've just got to live life for Mark. "

Solicitor Rachael Aram, who represented the family, said: "Employers have a duty of care to look after those who are working for them.

"This horrific accident should never have happened."

A spokesperson for Hadee Engineering declined to comment.

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