Condor Ferries has been successfully sued for £140,000 following an accident which took place on a night ferry and led to the victim being medically retired. Leading trade union Amicus has secured the compensation via its free legal help scheme for member George Shimmans, an electrical craftsman from Denbighshire.

The accident took place in November 2003, as Mr Shimmans, then aged 56, was travelling back to Portsmouth having been working away from home in Jersey for Siemens. He was travelling on the night ferry and was sitting in a soft covered seat which had a low back with a wooden surround which extended to waist level. Suddenly the ferry jolted and he went over backwards in the chair he was sitting on and injured his back severely.

Mr Shimmans explains: “The accident has changed my life completely. I can only walk for a very limited distance before suffering extreme pain, and I can only drive for about 20 minutes. As a result, Siemens have had to retire me on medical grounds which impacts my future earning potential.”

“But for my accident and symptoms, I would have continued in my job at Siemens earning my normal wage, together with overtime until retirement at age 65. This has all changed now.”

Michael Barr, Regional Amicus officer, said: “This was a very difficult case. Luckily with Amicus' backing, George Shimmans was able to take on the company using Amicus' solicitors and win. We are pleased that justice has been done and would like to thank our solicitors, Thompsons, for their dedicated work. This successful outcome highlights the benefit of being in a union."

Representing George Shimmans, his solicitor Imogen Wetton from Thompsons Solicitors, explains: “The chair which Mr Shimmans was sitting in was neither suitable nor safe and as it was unsecured it was both a danger and a trap. The accident has led to him taking early retirement on medical grounds, and the compensation secured reflects this. Union members don’t often realise that their union legal service covers them for accidents outside of work too, even in unusual circumstances such as taking a ferry to or from work.”