Ex-steel worker wins £500,000 damages

A former steel worker has had his compensation for an industrial accident increased from £3,500 to almost £500,000.

43-year-old Christopher Simmons suffered an injury to his head when he fell at work and hit his head on a metal stanchion. He was working as a burner at the British Steel’s Clyde Bridge Works in Cambuslang in May 1996.

Mr Simmons, from Hamilton, Scotland, suffered severe headaches and blurred vision for several weeks after his accident. He has also suffered from depression as a result and his psoriasis has worsened due to the stress. He filed a compensation claim against the Clyde Bridge Works after he was forced to take early retirement due to his ill health.

He was awarded just £3,573 by Lord Hardie at Edinburgh’s Court of Session in 2001. He ruled that Mr Simmons’ depression and skin condition had not stemmed from his accident, but from his anger at his treatment. In his ruling, Lord Hardie said that he was not satisfied that Mr Simmons’ mental condition was “directly attributable” to the accident. He also rejected his claim for damages for other problems.

Mr Simmons appealed against the ruling stating that Lord Hardie had misdirected himself in assessing the medical evidence.

The ruling was overturned by three appeal judges at Edinburgh’s Supreme Court. The appeal was heard by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, Lord Kingarth and Lord Caplan. Lord Gill said: “We conclude there was ample evidence to warrant the conclusion that all aspects of the medical consequences suffered by him were directly caused by the accident.”

Lord Gill also said that Mr Simmons had gradually undergone a complete change of personality which had left him seriously depressed. “In our view, the evidence looked at as a whole presents a coherent and cogent picture of a casual link, in the most direct sense, between the accident and Mr Simmons’ present condition in both its dermatological and psychiatric aspects,” he said.

The judges ordered British Steel to pay Mr Simmons £498,221 in compensation.

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