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Six-figure payout for tanker driver

A LORRY driver who lost both his legs after his tanker ploughed into a wall in North Wales is in line for a six-figure payout.

A LORRY driver who lost both his legs after his tanker ploughed into a wall in North Wales is in line for a six-figure payout.

But following a four-year battle to prove the vehicle's brakes were defective, it is expected to be a considerable time before the exact figure is reached.

Robert Pryor, of Ellesmere Port, suffered serious multiple injuries in the horrific incident and nearly died three times in the following weeks.

He was trapped in the cab of his diesel tanker which crashed as he travelled down a hill on the B4391 at Llanffestiniog on September 20, 1996. He was carrying a delivery from the Stanlow Refinery.

As he sped out of control towards a T-junction, he decided to make the more difficult left turn because he knew the right turn led to the village school. Consequently it was his side of the cab that took the brunt of the impact when he hit the stone wall.

His injuries included a smashed pelvis, facial fractures. His ribs were broken and he lost his legs. He was airlifted to hospital in Bangor and underwent three operations to amputate more of his damaged legs above the knees. He also suffered kidney and liver failure.

On several occasions, his family were told to say their goodbyes because he was not expected to make it through the night.

But against the odds Mr Pryor, now 41, pulled through. Stunned doctors again went to his family, but this time to say: "He just won't die."

He was transferred to Clatterbridge Hospital, Wirral, and later to Arrowe Park to be closer to home. He was in hospital for 10 months.

Mr Pryor's battle to survive his injuries was only just beginning. He had lost his health, his livelihood and, in the months following the accident, the strain of what he had been through cost him his marriage of 17 years.

"Every aspect of my life completely changed," he said.

"I was left wheelchair-bound and I was very angry. I felt a lot of resentment and it just tore my marriage apart. Despite surviving the crash, I felt my life was over."

Details of Mr Pryor's ordeal emerged during a damages hearing at Liverpool High Court last week in which he sued his employer, Bates & Hunt (Petroleum) Ltd of Dorrington, Shrewsbury.

They denied liability and disputed his claim that two of the six brakes on the vehicle, which was maintained by an outside contractor, were defective. They claimed he had been driving too fast.

But on the fourth day of the trial, an out-of-court settlement was reached on the basis of Mr Pryor admitting 50pc contributory negligence.

Following the hearing, both sides are now in discussion to agree a compensation figure for Mr Pryor. If this proves impossible, another trial will have to take place for a judge to decide.

Joe Skinner, of Birkenhead-based J M Skinner and Co, which represented Mr Pryor, said: "It could take another 12 months to determine the compensation. However, it will be a very high claim, certainly six figures, taking into account the length of time, loss of earnings and physical injuries."

A spokeswoman for Bates & Hunt was "unable to comment".


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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