A FITNESS and motorbike enthusiast from Essex, who lost his leg in a workplace accident, has been given a new lease of life after a successful multimillion-pound compensation claim.
Damien Bundock, 29, from Grays, was crushed by machinery that weighed three tonnes when he was working on a demolition project in June 2017 for construction firm S Walsh & Sons at a site in Essex. He was airlifted to hospital but, despite extensive efforts, doctors had no choice but to amputate his lower right leg.
As a result of the life-changing injury, the then 24-year-old was unable to return to work for some time. He contacted Pace Rehabilitation, the UK’s largest independent provider of amputee rehabilitation services, to help him as he began his rehabilitation journey, and they signposted him to social justice law firm, Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has exclusively represented injured workers – never those who cause injury or their insurers – for more than 100 years.
As his lawyers fought for compensation, it was discovered that – while his employer did log the injury – they did so only as a ‘broken ankle’. Management at S Walsh & Sonsalso tried to claim that Mr Bundock was to blame for the accident and that his compensation should be reduced to reflect that, even though he had not been trained adequately to perform the job in the first place.
Despite the challenges, Thompsons Solicitors successfully argued that, as Mr Bundock had been a keen runner, swimmer, and motocross rider prior to the injury, he would need multiple adapted limbs to allow him to get back to doing what he loved most. Not only did they secure substantial interim payments – allowing Mr Bundock to cover the cost of his initial prosthetic limbs – but they also obtained a multimillion-pound compensation package to pay for four other prosthetic limbs, including an advanced powered microprocessor prosthesis (Empower) and a running blade. The settlement ensures Mr Bundock can not only pay for other adaptations, but that he will not be left in financial difficulties if he struggles to find work in the future.
While his main prosthesis allows him to perform daily activities, he now has specialist limbs for swimming, running, motocross riding and other more strenuous tasks.
Damien Bundock said: “My solicitor Nicola was great; I wouldn’t be where I am without her and the team at Pace. I feel so incredibly grateful to have had such amazing support around me.
“I was over the moon to receive enough money for five prosthetics. I was told by my legal team that even three is a big success, and so I didn’t expect that I’d ever be able to pick up all the sports that I loved doing again. But they pushed me to go for it and gave me the confidence to see my claim through to the end.
“I have a lot of travel plans in the pipeline, none of which would have been possible without the support I have received and the use of my prostheses.”
According to the Health and Safety Executive, 441,000 people were injured at work in 2020/21, with construction jobs being one of the most likely professions to lead to an injury.
Nicola Saunders, from Thompsons Solicitors’ London office, said: “Seeing such a young, vibrant person suffer a life-changing injury like this is never easy, but it’s even more upsetting when you know that it could have been avoided entirely had his employer followed basic health and safety procedures. Incredibly, not only did his employer refuse to take full responsibility and seemingly attempt to cover up the severity of Damien’s injuries, they tried – until a month before trial – to claim Damien was partially responsible for what happened which created massive additional and unnecessary stress for him.
“Historically, the view for those with amputation injuries is to restore some semblance of normality with two or three prostheses, but, at Thompsons, we have never thought that is enough. Compensation is intended to put an injured person back in a position they would have been in had the accident not happened, and given Damien was an active young man before the accident, we were determined that with the right rehab, equipment and team around him, he should have the chance to get back to the hobbies he loved, including motocross, the running track or being able to swim and snorkel. With his prostheses, especially the Empower – which mimics the inactive or absent calf muscles to provide power and stability to users – he will be able to return to living a life that any healthy person in their 20s would expect.
“He will, of course, still face challenges when it comes to future employment as well as continuing physical and psychological effects of his injury, but with the excellent work of the team at Pace, he is in the best possible position to move forward with his life.”
While Mr Bundock is currently not in employment, he is hoping that, with his new prostheses, he will be able to return to full time work.
Jamie Gillespie, a prosthetist at Pace, said: “Supporting Damien through his rehabilitation has been an absolute pleasure. From early use of his prosthesis, we saw a positive change to his mood, as he worked hard and progressed well. With access to good care, advanced prosthetic devices, and excellent physiotherapy support, he has returned to an active and independent life. We cannot ask for more than that.”