Lee Bell’s story
I’m a steel erector by trade. I have a good name in the trade, could get a job anywhere in the world, even in Africa. I’m used to working hard, long hours, away for home for days at a time. It pays well, I enjoy the camaraderie, and it makes you appreciate the times you do have at home with your family. Because it’s physical work, it keeps you strong and fit, and I used to work out in the gym 5 times a week.
I was working on 22 Bishopsgate in London, the tallest building after the Shard, when I had my accident. As I was helping to lower a beam from the third floor, I tripped and fell, dislocating my shoulder. I put it back roughly and went to the Royal London Hospital, where I was diagnosed with a fractured shoulder.
I went home and at my local hospital I was scanned again, and diagnosed with torn ligaments as well. I had to have physio for 9 months, but could not go back to work. I wanted to go to back, because we were expecting a new daughter, and I wanted to have our new house ready for the birth. But I had to stay at home, trying to help with the baby, but feeling useless and getting depressed.
I pushed to get back to work on light duties, but I went back too soon, and there are no light duties on a building site. Because I had lost my muscle strength after the accident, and had lost mobility in my arm, I couldn’t do the lifting and opened up the injury again. That was it, I had to accept I couldn’t do my job ever again. I felt useless and became depressed.
I was on antidepressants, seeing a Psychiatrist, but could not get right. I’d had to change my lifestyle, and just wasn’t myself.
I was introduced to Helen Clifford by a friend in the trade, and also by my brother. I called her in 2017, and she took the case on straightaway. We had lots of conversations; she was almost like a counsellor to me; I could be on the phone for an hour at a time. I didn’t see the Psychiatrist for a long time, because Helen was always there; she went out of her way for me, it was more than just work to her. Helen really cares for her clients.
Helen gave me advice on non-related problems, giving freely of her time. She helped my dad get over a family tragedy, all on the basis of friendship,
The company accepted 80% liability for the accident, but Helen wasn’t happy with that. She believed the company was responsible for maintaining a safe environment, and I’d reported lots of near misses. I’d done my job properly, and Helen wouldn’t back down. She fought it all the way through the settlement meeting, and the end, 4 years after the accident, we agreed on 5% liability. That made a huge difference to us, given I’d lost all my future earnings.
My claim settled, but there was an employment issue with my company, and Helen helped me with that, too.
Helen is the best in her field of construction injury law. She does not take anything from her clients’ compensation, she is paid by the defendants. Unlike other solicitors, who have charged people I know, even when their claim didn’t go ahead. Helen cares about the people works for. She cares about you getting what’s right, what you deserve. She could charge more, but doesn’t. What other solicitor do you know like that?
I’ve got a chance to try a new life now. I’m at home all the time, I can see my daughter grow up. I have plans for a business and can afford to open a workshop in my new house. I’ve used the compensation well, to give us an income, and relieve the financial pressure. My life is the opposite of what it was, but I’ve got goals and plans.