Chain­saw ac­ci­dent vic­tim’s pay­out win

Southport Visiter - - Front Page - BY CHRISTY BYRNE [email protected]­i­tymir­ @ByrneChristy

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

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