My son suffered a broken vertebra when masonry fell on him while he was working on a building site last month and his employer wants to make a private settlement of compensation for construction debris falling on his head. Should he accept?
Without knowing how much compensation for construction debris falling on his head your son is being offered, it is difficult to advise you on this matter. It is most likely that it will be a considerable amount of time until the full consequences of your son´s injuries are known, and for this reason alone it would be prudent to restrain from accepting any offer of compensation.
When an injury such as a broken vertebra is sustained, it can be many months before it is established whether there has been any permanent damage to the spinal nervous system. Even though the vertebra bone may mend successfully, bone fragments from the initial injury may pinch the spinal nerves and inhibit communication between the brain and other parts of the body.
Should your son sustain any permanent paralysis because of construction debris falling on his head, it is unlikely that this would be immediately apparent and accounted for in any settlement of compensation for construction debris falling on the head. There may also be more sinister reasons for your son´s employer wishing to make a private arrangement.
Due to the nature of your son´s construction debris falling on head accident, the Health and Safety Executive should be informed under RIDDOR Regulations – which may then result in an HSE inspection of the building site. Should the HSE find evidence of unsafe working practices, your son´s employer could face a substantial fine and even criminal proceedings.
Furthermore, the employer may have a large excess on his liability insurance policy or – in the worse possible scenario – no insurance at all in contravention of the Employers´ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. This would make him personally liable to pay compensation for construction debris falling on the head and possibly explain why he is eager to make a quick settlement of your son´s claim for construction debris falling on his head so soon after the accident.
It would certainly appear to be in your son´s best interests to discuss the circumstances of his construction debris falling on head accident with a construction accidents solicitor as soon as possible. The solicitor will be able to give him advice on whether to accept his employer´s offer of compensation or to proceed with a claim for construction debris falling on head once the full consequences of his injury are known.