Inquest hears that Harbour had numerous ‘tripping hazards’

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An inquest in to the death of a trawlerman at Ilfracombe Harbour in North Devon some 3 years ago has heard that there were numerous “tripping hazards” at the harbour and that it was likely that these caused him to fall to his death.  Jamie Barbeary, from Swansea, died three years ago at Ilfracombe Harbour in north Devon.   Mr. Barbeary a trawler skipper had been due to leave on the Olivia Belle with two other crew members shortly after midnight on 12 October 2009.  Unfortunately, he failed to show up and his and his body was later found at low tide in the harbour shortly after sunrise.

It is believed that Mr. Barbeary fell more than 20ft (6.5m) after tripping on one of the numerous hazards whist trying to get on board the the ship and that the cause of his death was a trauma to the head after it struck the concrete plinth of a fuelling berth where the vessel had been moored.

At Direct 2 Compensation, we handle many Personal Injury claims arising from injuries caused in slip and trip accidents.  Whilst the injuries sustained in such accidents are usually fairly minor (fractures and soft tissue damage) they (injuries) usually provide sufficient damage to warrant a Personal Injury Claim.  This matter clearly ended with a very serious outcome – the death of an otherwise healthy young man.  This case highlights the risks caused to members of the public by tripping hazards and how an innocuous looking obstacle on a footpath can lead to life changing outcomes.  In this case, the deceased Fisherman’s family would still be able to make a claim for their loss.  The value of the claim would be made from a claim for his loss of life, would be a claim for future loss of income, as he was  a Father, supporting children at home in Swansea.

Although the inquest in Exeter heard Mr Barbeary, 37, had been drinking and was nearly three times the legal drink-drive limit when a sample of his blood was taken and examined, it is clear that the tripping hazards lead to his untimely demise.

Indeed, Joanna Fitzgerald an inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, said there were hazards at the harbour, following site visits to the location.  The HSE reported that they found nets and equipment and various floor-level obstructions constituting a tripping hazard at the site.  This would give rise to the assumption that a valid tripping claim could be made against the owners/authority responsible for the site.

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