Man who won fight for life after industrial incident now faces fresh battle

A man who was left fighting for life after an incident on the site of a new Teesside biomass power plant is now facing a fresh battle, against insurers for the compensation pay-out he needs to try to move on with his life.

Dale Reed, a pipe layer, was working on the new £160m Port Clarence Renewable Energy Plant in October last year, when he suffered life-changing injuries after cladding attached to the building came loose and fell onto him from a height of over 30 metres.

The incident has left contractor Dale – who was not usually based on that site, and was only there for one day to cover leave – paralysed with a catalogue of further injuries including fractured bones throughout his body and organ damage.

Having been in James Cook University Hospital for over five months, doctors have deemed Dale, from Pelton, County Durham, as being medically fit to be discharged, although his own home is no longer suitable given his care needs.

However, Dale is unable to secure the specially-adapted accommodation he so badly requires due to a dispute over which of the companies working on the Port Clarence site is liable for the incident, meaning that no funding has yet been secured.

From his hospital bed and struggling to speak, Dale – father to daughters Shannon and Karley and grandfather to three-year-old Finlay – said: “Every day is torture, absolute torture. My life feels like a jail sentence. Every day is exactly the same. I feel like I am stuck.”

Fiona Samms, Dale’s partner of over 30 years, has been forced to suspend her job as a care worker to be with Dale every day at his bedside. She slammed the culpable parties and their insurers for not taking responsibility for what has happened.

“I think it’s absolutely disgraceful, how dare they. It’s disgusting. Clearly none of this is Dale’s fault, he hasn’t done anything wrong and was just there doing his job, but now we are forced to live with the consequences. It is horrible for him. He loved his job, but now he’ll never work again. It’s devastating,” she said.

“I think getting out of hospital and getting back to where we live, with our family and friends and in the community we know, would really pick him up. We can’t go back home, so we need to find somewhere new which can be adapted for Dale’s needs. But until someone admits they are responsible, we can’t do that. It’s making this whole situation so much worse.

“Dale is doing so well but it is a struggle. When our grandson comes to the hospital, he asks why granddad Dale can’t take him to see the horses like he always did at home, he’s only three so he doesn’t understand. It’s heartbreaking. We can only hope that whoever needs to admit liability does the right thing and supports Dale in getting some quality of life back.”

John Davis, one of the UK’s leading serious injury lawyers and consultant at Newcastle law firm Sintons, is acting on behalf of the family in trying to secure a settlement.

“After suffering such life-changing injuries in an incident that clearly was not his fault, it is particularly distressing for Dale and his family that no-one has yet admitted responsibility for their part in this. Dale’s case helps to highlight the devastating impact this kind of situation has on seriously injured people and families, at a time in their life when they need support more than ever,” he said.

“Dale is a determined man surrounded by a very supportive family and an expert and dedicated team at the James Cook University Hospital spinal injuries unit, all of which have undoubtedly helped him to make the progress he has so far, but what we need now is to get him out of hospital and into a new specially-adapted place that he and Fiona can call home. I and the specialist team at Sintons will fight hard on his behalf to make this happen.”

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