Chainsaw accident victim’s payout win
ASOUTHPORT fatherof-two, who nearly had his left arm cut off by a chainsaw, has received a sixfigure payout after it was found his employers did not provide adequate training.
Karl Spafford suffered lifechanging injuries in February 2014 when he was working as a tree surgeon.
The 35-year-old was 30ft up a tree in Preston, using one hand to hold a branch and the other to use a chainsaw.
When he went to cut the branch, the chainsaw kicked back and cut into his forearm leaving him with a severe gash.
He was rushed to Royal Preston Hospital for emergency surgery.
He has now been left with permanent pins and needles in his forearm and chronic neuropathic pain, along with significant scarring and a reduction in grip strength.
Now, after a four-year legal battle, it has now emerged that his former employer had not provided him with adequate training. Employees should have been given refresher training to remind them of the importance of using two hands when operating a chainsaw.
After over four years of suffering physical and mental pain, he has now received a six-figure payout.
The settlement means that he can now focus on starting afresh with his family.
Tree surgery was Karl’s dream career and he had done it since he was 17, travelling the world learning new skills and showcasing his talent.
Since the accident he has had to come to terms with the fact that he is unable to return to the line of work that he enjoyed so much.
He said: “Tree surgery was all that I knew, and I loved it; I lived and breathed my job.
“I was known for being able to go further and higher than other people.
“I knew there were risks associated with the work, but I didn’t think anything would happen to me.
“Had I been trained more, it would have been drilled into me to use two hands when operating dangerous machinery like a chainsaw.
“I really just want to speak out to try and stop this from happening to anyone else.
“I wish I could go straight back into my career as a tree surgeon, but that’s not possible so I’ve had to start rebuilding my life.”
In the months after the accident, Karl was unable to work because of his injuries.
He was having counselling for post traumatic stress disorder and cognitive behavioural therapy to deal with the flashbacks and anxiety he was suffering with, and on top of this his family had to move out of their home as they were unable to maintain the monthly rent payments.
Karl’s wife, Christa, had to postpone her degree so she could work, and not being able to provide for his family had a massive impact on Karl.
Once he was well enough to start looking for work again, he found he was unemployable because of the medication he was taking for the pain.
It took him six months to come off the painkillers but he knew that in order to work again, he would have to handle the pain and stop the medication.
In November 2016, he found work as a children’s support worker, a role that he enjoys.
He added: “I have had to come to terms with my injuries and the fact I’ll never be a tree surgeon again. I now have a job that I really enjoy but it is a total change of career for me.
“It was incredibly daunting at first but it brings me a lot of satisfaction now.”
Karl, Christa and their two young children are now looking forward to a fresh start in a new house, putting the turmoil of the past few years behind them.
Karl added: “The money will mean that we can recover from the last few years when I haven’t been able to work, and we can get our own house which is really important to us as a family to have that security after such a tough time.”
He also paid tribute to Fletchers solicitors in Southport who helped him through his lengthy legal battle.
Karl Spafford with wife Christa