A council has paid damages to a GMB member who broke his ribs after a nasty fall when he tripped over the burnt out remains of a motorbike in a London estate.

The 45-year-old from East London was walking home from work in the dark when he had the bad fall in August 2008.

The London Borough of Newham had removed the main body of the motorcycle but had left the remaining burnt debris on the pavement.

The duty manager for a local authority was left with fractured ribs, a bad cut to his face, which has left a scar, and soft tissue injuries to his knees.

He was able to get to his home only a few hundred metres away but was forced to take two weeks holiday off work to recover.

Once he returned to work he needed assistance for a while with the more manual aspects of his job.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following the accident he complained to the council about the debris himself but it was still over a year until the debris was finally cleared.

His trade union, the GMB, instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue compensation. Thompsons argued that the council, on removing the main body of the burnt out motorbike should have noticed and removed the trip hazards in the area. Thompsons criticised the council’s highways inspection programme.

The council admitted liability but a figure for compensation could not be agreed and the matter went to trial.

The GMB member said: “It was dark at the time of the accident so I had no idea of what lay in my way and it was a total shock when I fell. I don’t know how I managed to get myself home.

“I decided to pursue compensation because I lost two weeks holiday and because the council’s botched clear up job left me a sitting duck. They should have cleared up the area properly when they first removed the abandoned motorbike. It still took them a year to fix the pavement after my accident.”

Fall could have been prevented

Mark Holland, GMB Officer for the member said: “This member’s nasty fall could easily have been prevented had the council done it’s job correctly when it first removed the motorbike. In a darkened area there were bits sticking up out of the floor making it an obvious hazard to members of the public.”

Michael Hagan from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Half doing a job does not amount to having an acceptable system in place. Incredibly the hazard was not fixed for a year after the member’s accident.”