‘Underhand’ Insurer Tried To Dupe GMB Injury Victim

21 Jul 2012

‘Underhand’ insurer tried to dupe injury victim

GMB is warning members who are injured at work not to accept offers of compensation from their employers or insurance companies without taking independent legal advice. Factory worker Shaun Powell, whose foot was crushed by a huge metal beam while working for Joseph Ash Chesterfield Ltd, was called into work by a senior manager and offered just £1,700 in compensation by the employer’s insurer, Garwyns. Now the GMB member has received more than £122,000 in damages with the support of the union’s legal service.

The 43-year-old from Chesterfield has been unable to return to work since the red hot 10 metre long, 1.25 tonne steel beam landed on his left ankle in 2008. His foot was so badly burnt and broken he needed a skin graft and suffered from chronic pain syndrome, which means he needs regular injections to control the pain. He also suffered post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks. Just six weeks after the injury he was phoned by a senior manager and asked to come into the office to discuss the incident. At the meeting, a representative from Garwyns offered him just over £1,700 to cover his time off and injuries. Mr Powell, who was subsequently made redundant, has been unable to find another job due to his physical and mental injuries.

After declining the offer on GMB advice, union law firm Thompsons commenced legal action against Joseph Ash when they denied any responsibility. The firm settled the claim for £122,000 shortly before trial. Mr Powell said: ‘I thought it was a good offer and was ready to settle it. I had no idea that my injuries would cause me to be out of work for so long. Fortunately I asked the GMB and Thompsons for advice otherwise I’d be unemployed now and the £1,700 they offered would be long gone.’

Jeremy Hague from Thompsons Solicitors said: ‘This is the worst case I’ve seen of employers and their insurers attempting to take advantage of their employee’s vulnerability. It’s a return to the bad old days when insurers had offices in factory car parks and injured workers would be sent to them for a pay off if nothing more was said. Mr Powell was approached by his employer when he was still in shock over his very serious accident. He wasn’t advised to seek independent advice but was being told by those with vested interests to accept an appalling low level of damages.’