Bricklayer to get compensation for electric shock while building wall in Weymouth

Keith Watson with his wife Pauline

Keith Watson with his wife Pauline

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by

A BRICKLAYER who suffered a life-threatening electric shock has won the right to a substantial damages payout.

Keith Watson, 50, was building a wall in Weymouth when he struck a mains cable.

High voltage coursed through his body and set his T-shirt on fire.

Self-employed Mr Watson was doing work for stables owner Paul Rookes on his land off Puddledock Lane in 2009 when he suffered the accident.

Mr Watson managed to douse the flames, but was badly burned and had to be put into an induced coma after the extent of his injuries was discovered.

Blaming Mr Rookes for the accident, he took his case to the High Court and yesterday, after two full days of argument, the parties agreed a settlement on liability issues.

The compromise, full details of which have not been disclosed, will mean Mr Watson, of West Cliff Road, Bournemouth, will get a substantial sum to compensate him for his pain, suffering and losses.

His barrister, Robert Willer, told the judge the work was commissioned by Mr Rookes, who had used Mr Watson’s labour several times in the past.

He was renting the field to a woman who ran donkey rides on Weymouth beach and needed a wall to prevent the animals from getting too close to the main road, the judge was told.

During the hearing, Mr Rookes’ lawyers said he was not liable for the accident.

The court heard that work at the site to erect food stores for animals had resulted in the level of the ground being substantially lowered, leaving the cables closer to the surface.

Mr Watson had only hammered the pin a short way into the earth when he was shocked, damaging his internal organs and leaving his family fearing for his life.

The court was told that his injuries caused him excruciating pain and he subsequently suffered deep vein thrombosis, pneumonia and carpal tunnel syndrome. He underwent treatment – including skin grafts – at Salisbury District Hospital after coming out of the coma.

Doctors who treated Mr Watson, a weightlifter, said his hobby may have saved his life because his muscular frame absorbed much of the shock.

The amount of Mr Watson's compensation will be assessed at a later date, unless both parties settle earlier.

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