A young woman who lost a leg after a horrific trampolining accident at a sports centre has been awarded six figure damages through her father’s membership of a trade union.

Michelle Hadfield's father Peter sought legal advice for his daughter through UNISON's ‘Friends and Family’ legal scheme. The scheme provides free legal advice and representation to the family and friends of UNISON members who are injured in non-workplace accidents. Michelle was referred to UNISON lawyers Thompsons Solicitors, who fought for compensation for Michelle even after Medlock Leisure Centre denied liability for the accident.

Michelle, of Droylsden, Manchester, suffered the leg injury as a result of an accident during an adult trampoline class at the centre in December 2001. She was persuaded by a relative to attend the class, which was the first occasion either had taken part in the sport. Towards the end of the session, Michelle was asked to perform a complicated routine, which caused her to land awkwardly on the trampoline bed. As a result she suffered a severe fracture of her knee.

Below the knee amputation

Having been admitted to a local hospital, immediate treatment was administered. During the course of the following week however, doctors discovered severe damage to her blood vessels had occurred. Following medical advice she then consented to a below the knee amputation of her right leg.

Through the Friends and Family scheme, UNISON’s solicitors obtained further medical evidence and a report from an expert in gymnastics, before establishing a meeting with the sports centre at the defendant’s request. 

Despite continuing denial of liability, the centre offered to settle the case; this was rejected by Michelle following her solicitor’s advice. Further evidence was then obtained and following the steps taken to commence Court Proceedings, the centre made a further offer of double the initial figure including CRU benefits.

Legal Assistance was cost free

Both Mr. Hadfield and his daughter were pleased with the opportunity presented by the trade union, as Michelle explains: “By extending the legal scheme in this way, UNISON is providing the same high quality legal service to the friends and family of members as it does to members themselves. Without the assistance of UNISON's expert lawyers, which was absolutely free, we may well have not continued to fight for compensation after the sports centre denied liability. Or we may have accepted the first offer the centre made.”

Frank Hont, Regional Secretary for UNISON comments: “Our members are often surprised that this avenue of recourse is also available to their friends and family. Hopefully the successful outcome of Michelle Hadfield's case will encourage others to turn to schemes like these through their union legal services team.”

“The compensation we’ve succeeded in securing for Michelle Hadfield will provide some comfort following such a tragic accident,” comments Mark Turnbull of Thompsons Solicitors in Manchester. “We’d like more UNISON members to realise that such legal support is available to their friends and family.”