Gavin's story.

I’m going to a classic bike show at the weekend, the first since my accident. I’ve booked a nice hotel as a treat for my wife, as a thank you for acting as my carer over the last couple of years. I can afford it now the settlement has come through. I had to sell off some of my old bikes and car collection, to keep us going between the accident and the payout.

The accident changed lots of plans. My dad used to run a garage, and taught me mechanics. Everyone brought their cars to us, it was a labour of love for me. We’d bought a bungalow on a big plot, and planned to renovate it and build a garage for me to work on my bikes and cars. I’d got the garage half built, and we assumed I’d have plenty of work in the future. However, the accident changed everything at a stroke and the money stopped coming in, so we couldn’t pay the builders.

Helen Clifford has been fantastic in fighting my old employer’s insurers to get me the settlement. I wasn’t eligible for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, because my accident happened in Germany, and the employer denied liability at first. We were in dire straits at that point, and I don’t think any other lawyer would have got that result for us.

I went straight into the army after school and suffered PTSD in Northern Ireland. The accident had the same effect and symptoms.

I was always destined to join the army, my dad was a Desert Rat, and my brother did 14 years. When I left the army, I worked for Siemens, supervising the engineering department. After 7 years desk work, I went back to field work, working abroad, in Africa, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Israel. I was installing heavy recycling plants all over the world but didn’t see my young family grow up. I was dedicated to work, had no time to see the family, or take holidays.

There was always a deadline to be met. In June 2022 I had to rush from Derby to Duisburg in Germany. I took a small van with some tools, and a team of 4, to do a job normally needing 8 men, and a walk-in Toolbox. I was told the Toolbox would follow us, but it never arrived, leaving us with a limited selection of tools. My team was inexperienced and unskilled, and the customer was pressuring us on deadlines, so there was a lot of stress.

I was up on a cherry picker checking bolts, and the conveyor moved below me, because the team had not used the proper chains to secure it. I fell into a seven-foot pit, followed by a two-tonne chain. It crushed my right-hand side, breaking my arm, wrist, and leg, and they had had to get me out with the help of the fire brigade, medics and ambulances.

I woke up in hospital, with cages drilled into my leg and arm. My wife had packed instantly to come to Germany, find out where I was, and then talk to the doctors and medics. I was in no state to make decisions, and she had to do it all, alone. The Company Director responsible had not set anything up, she had to negotiate with the firm’s insurers. And she doesn’t speak German, it was hard. She was with me for weeks, off work, and had to find carers for the kids and dogs. The company didn’t help at all, my wife did it all.

I was eventually released and transported back to England, flat out across 3 aircraft seats. The doctors here identified more soft tissue injuries that needed addressing. I had titanium plates in my arm.

In January 2023, the company folded, owing money everywhere. The company had been paying me weekly money, but when Helen put my claim in, they stopped paying me.

I can’t ever do my old work again, only low risk, part time, low paid work. I can’t ride my motorbikes, can’t walk because my tendons are damaged. I’ve more operations planned. My wife has had to drive me everywhere, but I’ve had a car adapted for my disability.

Helen Clifford was recommended to me by a neighbour, and she’s been an absolute angel. She came up to visit me at home to discuss the case. I shared photos and diagrams with her, and she saw immediately that my life was going to be changed forever. She went to and fro with the company’s insurers and solicitors. They denied liability at first, and fought her until she threatened to go to court.

Even though my case is settled, it’s not over for Helen when the job’s done. When she’s in the area, Helen calls in on me, she’s still there for me, offering any help I need. And if she doesn’t know an answer, she finds someone who does. Helen goes well above and beyond. Helen’s a really nice person. I don’t think she does it for the money, she wants to help out people in the industry. She’d have done the case for no money, she’s doing it for you.

Helen Clifford Law - Gavin's Story

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