pounds 600,000 for double accident

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The Independent Online
A FORMER health worker whose right leg was amputated below the knee after two accidents at a hospital won pounds 600,000 compensation yesterday, ending a 13-year legal battle. Alison Hockaday, 34, who was first injured when she slipped on wet leaves, suffered 31 operations before she finally received what is one of the biggest payouts of its kind.

Mrs Hockaday, who is expecting her first child in May, yesterday accused West Durham Health Authority of taking her "to the edge".

The authority was found liable for two accidents Mrs Hockaday had in 1997, but the claim was settled only three weeks ago ahead of a High Court hearing scheduled for yesterday. Mrs Hockaday suffered her first fall as a 21-year-old in 1986, badly twisting her knee four days after starting work as an occupational therapy assistant. Then in March 1990 she slipped on a wet vinyl floor at the hospital, fracturing her right ankle.

The health authority denied liability for the first accident, but failed to file a defence over her second fall. During more than a decade of litigation complications set in. Mrs Hockaday's right leg was amputated in May 1997. Since then she has suffered phantom pains and has considerable difficulty moving around because she has back and hip problems. Now she has to use a wheelchair and has an artificial limb.

Mrs Hockaday, who lives in the Prime Minister's constituency and is expecting a baby at the same time as Cherie Blair, said she would spend part of the money on buying a bungalow because she could not manage stairs.