A GOLD Coast tradie looks set to receive more than $1.3 million in compensation after almost being buried alive in a horror workplace accident in Brisbane.
Coomera man Darren Cootes almost died when a trench dug for foundations on a new car dealership showroom in the capital collapsed onto him in August 2013.
The collapse left Mr Cootes – who has worked as a labourer since the age of 16 and is now aged in his 50s – severely injured and unable to work again.
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“I had no options. I’m a manual worker and I can’t work anymore. All I’ve ever done and known was taken from me,” Mr Cootes said.
Mr Cootes had raised concerns about the trench not being shored up correctly with site supervisors multiple times prior to the 2013 accident, and had even suggested a solution, but it fell on deaf ears.
Construction contractors also refused to take photos of the site until after they had rectified the collapse.
Despite the mandatory insurances in place for workers, and after the company responsible failed to accept responsibility, Mr Cootes was forced to take the matter all the way to the Supreme Court to secure compensation.
The tradie’s claim was taken on by local law firm Smith’s Lawyers and involved a long battle to prove liability.
Following a drawn-out fight, Smith’s Lawyers on Friday managed to secure a successful claim including indemnity costs potentially exceeding $1.3 million in compensation for Mr Cootes.
“I don’t know where to start – it has made a massive difference,” Mr Cootes said of the decision.
“It’s a relief that it’s over and that I was believed.
“It’s a massive relief to know that I have compensation coming that will help me out and pay off some debts and get me ahead so that I don’t have to live in constant worry.”
Smith’s Lawyers’ ‘No Win. No Fee. No Catch.’ promise meant Mr Cootes was able to fight for his compensation without being left out of pocket.
Typically, when a case goes to court under a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement and is unsuccessful, the client could be deemed liable for the other sides law costs, which are often six-figure sums and result in clients losing their homes.
Smith’s Lawyers promise, however, protects its clients from such risk.
“It was great knowing that Smith’s would pay for me if I lost” Mr Cootes said.
“If I’d been with another firm I’d had no choice but to take the risk, I was already at rock bottom”.