Chris was employed as a trainee labourer for a construction company on works within the Army Training Regiment barracks in Winchester. His accident occurred when the dumper truck he was driving became firmly stuck in a trench. A digger operated by another employee attempted to pull the dumper truck out of the mud. During the manoeuvre, the bucket on the digger crushed his spine.
Chris was delivered by ambulance to Accident & Emergency at the Royal Hampshire Hospital in Winchester, before being transferred to the Spinal Unit at the Salisbury District Hospital.
He was informed by the medical specialists that he had suffered irreversible damage to his spinal cord. He was now paralysed from the waist down and would never walk again. He underwent surgery to stabilise his spine using metal plates and screws and he spent a total of 6-months on the spinal injury unit, recovering from the initial injury and surgery, and building up his strength and stamina for inevitable discharge home. He received treatment and therapy from several specialists, including the team at Dorset Orthopaedic.
At the time of his accident, Chris and his girlfriend Amy were living in a rented flat in Winchester. The flat was no longer suitable now that Chris was wheelchair dependent, and the local council managed to find them a ground floor flat in the nearby village of Twyford which was wheelchair accessible and suitable for his short-term needs.
Chris instructed a local law firm to investigate a personal claim for his spinal injuries and financial loss against his now former employer. Several months later, Grant Evatt took over conduct of Chris’s case and over the next two years, Grant became a firm friend to Chris, Amy, and their family.
Whilst primary liability was admitted by the Defendant, they alleged that Chris was contributory negligent for his accident and injuries and should accept a lower settlement. They also made Chris a substantial offer to settle. Grant advised Chris to decline the offer. Proceedings were commenced in the High Court in London and Grant made a formal application for a large interim payment of damages which Chris and Amy could use to move out of their pokey ground floor council flat in order to buy a fully accessible house or bungalow. The court ordered the Defendant to pay interim damages, and Chris and Amy bought their new home shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile, Chris had enrolled on a national diploma in Fishery Management at Sparsholt College which he passed with distinction in 2007.
At a criminal prosecution, the Defendant was found in breach of its health and safety responsibilities to Chris and they were heavily fined. In due course, Chris’s legal team, comprising of Grant and Barrister’s Frank Burton QC and William Latimer-Sayer met with the representatives for the Defendant’s liability insurer and a full and final settlement was negotiated. Chris was awarded a considerable amount in damages, including an order that the Defendant’s insurer would pay additional damages, on an annual basis, when Chris reaches age 65.
Life after Spinal Cord Injury
In 2007, Chris and Amy were married and in 2010, they moved to North Dorset to embark on new adventures. They renovated a house, which is now fully accessible with a through-floor lift, as well as refurbishing several self-catering wooden lodges on the land to let out as holiday homes. They now run a successful holiday business, ‘Whistley Waters’, a beautiful 15-acre retreat with fishing lakes, Chris’s passion. They have also welcomed four children, Joseph (9), Rupert (7), Rose (5) and Teddy (2) and have a very busy and active life!
Whilst recovering from a pressure sore in 2019, Chris read a book by Guy Martin, which inspired him to get more active. When he started to research his options, he found that there were lots of competitive wheelchair racing open to him. Through his research, Chris also discovered Access Adventures a charity which delivers life-changing adaptive sports and activities for people living with disabilities. They were hosting a fun, accessible triathlon at Dorney Lake in 2019. Chris trained for the event for 6 months, secured sponsorship and absolutely loved competing! This first triathlon took him 2 hours and 20 minutes, he returned earlier this year in a British championship race and was an hour faster and came 4th fastest in the wheelchair category.
He now competes in the WC PT H1 class (wheelchair Paratriathlon) and with Covid restrictions now being lifted, he has a number of events already in the calendar for 2021 including the inaugural 255 Triathlon at the Goodwood Motor Circuit on the 8th August, The British Triathlon Grand Finale at Mallory Park on 11th September and the Ironman 70.3 in Weymouth on the 19th September.
Chris could not be happier. He lives a healthy active life and wouldn’t change it for the world. He had a terrible experience when he first suffered his spinal cord injury but being wheelchair dependent hardly ever crosses his mind anymore and there isn’t anything he can’t do. He just wishes that he had started triathlons sooner!
Chris is one of the most inspirational and yet modest individuals I have ever had the pleasure to meet and befriend. In the prime of his life, he suffered devastating spinal cord injuries and but for his inner strength and the love of his devoted wife Amy and his family, he would not in my opinion, be the man he is today. I had the privilege to act for him in his claim for personal injury damages. He is living proof that with excellent medical care, rehabilitation and compensation, anyone with a spinal cord injury can live a full and happy life after injury. My firm is now fully supportive of Chris and his athletic ambitions. The Olympic Games in Paris 2024 here we come!
"I actually had met with a couple of different solicitors before I met Grant, but as soon as I met with Grant he put me at ease and I knew I wanted him to help me. I was facing a huge and incredibly daunting journey into an intimidating world I didn’t understand. He was very professional, and I completely trusted his advice but he was also very easy to get on with, very friendly and approachable. Although it was a long and emotional process, it really felt as though Grant was there fighting my corner at every turn and everything felt more manageable because of him. He was always there to lift me up during the hard times and was genuinely there to celebrate with us for the good. Grant is now a very good friend of mine, and me and Amy just want him to know how thankful we are that he helped us draw a line under what could have been a very negative time in my life and helped lay the foundations to move so far away from being stuck in my hospital bed to a life I love living."
Just #AskForGrant - he is a Law Society accredited personal injury solicitor who has specialised in claims for over 20 years. He's approachable, down to earth and you can rely on him to get you the compensation you need to get on with your life.