A Merseyside man has received significant compensation after a fall at work left him with back and head injuries.

Iain Baird, a 55-year-old self-employed river boat pilot from the Wirral, was attempting to climb a rope ladder onto a vessel in the Liverpool Bay in August 2018 when it snapped, causing him to fall and part of the ladder – which weighs more than 200kg- landing on top of him.

He suffered severe back pain and a head injury that left him unable to work for a month. The pain persisted and four years on he still suffers from back issues. The incident has also had a substantial impact on his confidence, with Mr Baird apprehensive when having to climb ladders at work.

Ian Baird
Ian Baird turned to Thompsons Solicitors for legal guidance.

Mr Baird said: “The accident has had a debilitating effect on my life, physically and mentally. I now suffer from anxiety at times, which is predominantly triggered when I’m having to board or disembark ships with ladders similar to the one that failed, resulting in my injury.

“I don’t want to think about what might have happened if it had broken slightly later. If I was a few steps higher I would have fallen back into the water, with the tangled ladder landing on top of me. It could have been fatal.”

A member of Unite, he turned to his union and Thompsons Solicitors for legal guidance.

With multiple defendants from various jurisdictions, the complex claim fell to Thompsons’ foreign jurisdiction specialists, who helped him secure settlement – after a tough fight with the various defendants.

Neil Richards, a senior lawyer at Thompsons’ Manchester office, said: “The container vessel was a Liberian registered ship managed by an Italian-owned company, whose offices were in Switzerland. And then we had to factor in the port authority.

“At Thompsons, we have extensive experience of personal injury shipping claims, including piloting issues, seafaring accidents, and accidents on offshore installations, but whenever there are multiple groups who could be at fault, they typically all pass the buck hoping someone else takes responsibility – and people like Iain are left in legal limbo.

“If Ian had gone to a non-specialist high street law firm they would not only have struggled to deal with the claim, he would have had at least 25 per cent deducted from his compensation which - due to his Unite membership - didn’t happen. He got 100% of his damages.”

Mr Baird remains uncertain how this will impact the rest of his career, but the compensation will ensure he is not at a loss if he cannot work due to his injuries.

He added: “Thompsons has been excellent with the handling of my case. My solicitor seemed to never stop recruiting more and more expert witnesses with maritime systems knowledge to support my claim, despite all the challenges posed by the defendants and the pandemic.

“This hard work proved vital in securing a successful compensation settlement in a case that felt at times like it was David vs Goliath.”