15 February 2013
Serious back injury leads to £167k compensation award
A severe back injury sustained during an incident at an assault course has resulted in a scout leader being awarded more than £167,000 in compensation.
Robert Wilson took legal action after he fractured a vertebrae while sliding down a fireman's pole in front of his troop at the Clyne Farm Centre's Challenge Valley course near Swansea in August 2009.
The 49-year-old landed awkwardly after sliding down the ten-foot pole and had to be airlifted to hospital, where he underwent major surgery as professionals attempted to repair the damage inflicted on his back.
However, he has been unable to continue working regularly as a taxi driver since the incident and has also found it very difficult to look after his disabled wife.
During the case heard at the High Court, Mr Wilson indicated that he was reluctant to go through with descending the pole due to concerns about his personal safety, but said he did so after relying on the opinion of a "highly confident" instructor at the location, who told him he would be fine.
According to Wales Online, the claimant noted: "She said 'just go out and give the pole a big hug, hug it tight'. I then said that I wasn't very fit, that I was a fat taxi driver at 13-and-a-half stone, and are you sure about this? She said to just give it a big hug."
Mr Wilson went on to say he felt agony immediately after hitting the floor.
Mrs Justice Swift, presiding over the case, established that the employee at the Clyne Farm Centre failed to show Mr Wilson how he should descend the pole safely in wet conditions or display the correct technique for using it.
The judge also dismissed counter-claims that Mr Wilson had been at fault for the accident by releasing his handhold on the pole while showing off in front of his troop and described him as a "thoroughly genuine and honest individual".
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Posted by Francesca Witney