Company refuse claim that accident wrecked business

Justin Richardson victim of accident caused by flooding raising a drain cover. January 30th 2014 E04108Q
Justin Richardson victim of accident caused by flooding raising a drain cover. January 30th 2014 E04108Q

An Eastbourne dad has been refused compensation after driving over a flooded manhole left him badly injured and destroyed his business.

Justin Richardson was driving along Whitley Road in his work van with his two-year-old son when he ran over a manhole that had been forced up from the ground due to excessive flooding.

His van hit the manhole cover at 30 miles per hour and was only prevented from flipping over due to the weight of apparatus inside the vehicle.

As a result of the impact, the van and all the appliances inside – equipment Mr Richardson used for his mobile diagnostic business – was written off, forcing him out of work and severely out of pocket.

Not only that, the 41-year-old has been left with painful injuries that limit his day-to-day activities and could require a hip replacement in the near future.

Mr Richardson said, “The doctor recommended six months of physio but the insurance only covers eight sessions.

“I think the impact must have compressed my legs or something because now I’ve got one leg that’s two-and-a-half inches shorter than the other.

“I can’t stand for any longer than 15 minutes, I can barely walk and I can’t even put my own shoes on – I’ve only got 30 per cent movement in my hip.

“I’ve lost my business because all my equipment was smashed and my van’s been written off. In total, it cost around £15,000.

“I’ve got my little boy to look after and I’ve put the bills on hold for three months but that time is up now. Southern Water has refused all responsibility.”

The incident, which also left his son with a bruised chest from where he was strapped in, took place on November 1 – just days after Storm St Jude hit the south coast, bringing with it copious amounts of rain and subsequent flooding across town. A Southern Water spokesman said, “While we have every sympathy in circumstances such as this, we have declined this claim as the cause of the accident was a result of exceptional weather, for which we have no liability.”

While weather was obviously a contributing factor, Mr Richardson still firmly believes someone should be held accountable for the situation.

He added, “I was told my van stayed on top of the manhole overnight and then the next day, Southern Water came and put sandbags around it.

“Someone should be liable for this. I asked Southern Water what would have happened if someone was killed and they said they would then have reconsidered the claim.

“It frightened the living daylights out of me. Now I’m suffering and I don’t know what to do.”