Family who lost everything when dad was killed still wait for compensation
THE family of a dad killed when a wall fell on him at work are calling for new compensation laws for relatives of accident victims.
The widow and daughters of Adrian O'Dowd were awarded more then £200,000 by a court last October – more than four years after his death.
But they say they are yet to receive it after Mr O'Dowd's former employer, Patrick Walsh, failed to pay up.
Adrian's widow, Angela O'Dowd, spoke out about the case today and described how financial turmoil had added to the loss of Adrian for her and their daughters Katie, 21, Sinead, 22, and Clodagh, 19.
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She said the Government should set up a national scheme to help families when those ordered to make pay-outs fail to do so.
Mrs O'Dowd, 45, of Nuthall, said: "With an accident like this there's no pot you can go to – there's nothing.
"It's been awful – we are the victims here. Our lives are on hold until this is sorted out."
She said Mr Walsh had made one offer of about £30,000 in around August – but she rejected it, saying it would not even cover legal fees.
Mr Walsh yesterday told the Post he had made offers to the O'Dowds but declined to discuss the case further.
Mr O'Dowd started work for Mr Walsh to replace a wall at the back of a house in Mays Avenue, Carlton, on January 24, 2007.
But the five-foot wall came crashing down and trapped him underneath.
Firefighters and ambulance crews fought for four hours to pull him from the rubble but he had already died.
Mrs O'Dowd said: "We lost everything, on top of me losing a husband and my daughters losing a father.
"We had to sell our house in Bakersfield to pay debts. We wanted to start a new life and were told insurance was in place – but it wasn't."
In 2009 Mr Walsh, then 41, and of Highcliffe Road, Sneinton, appeared at Nottingham Crown Court in a criminal case and admitted failing to ensure the wall was stable enough.
He was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay £7,500 in compensation to Mr O'Dowd's family, which was honoured.
But after hearing he had no employer's liability insurance, the family launched a civil claim for compensation against him for the loss of Adrian's earnings.
On October 19 last year the High Court awarded the O'Dowds £204,922.
But the family say so far they have received none of it having rejected an offer.
Having already spent about £30,000 in legal costs, the family say they can't pursue it any further and are left in limbo.
Mrs O'Dowd said: "We've got a judgment – but what happens now? When a judge makes a decision and you are awarded that amount, that's what you should be given. There needs to be something set up for cases like this."
Mrs O'Dowd said the family's situation had been made worse because she is not able to work due to health problems.
She said: "We talk about Adrian every day and remember him as if he's still here at times. The girls' birthdays are the hardest times.
"My daughters have kept me going – I'd have given up long ago if it wasn't for them."
She said the family did not know where to turn and pleaded with the Government to change the law.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "Health and safety inspectors routinely check for evidence of employers' liability insurance when they visit premises. We can and do prosecute when we find evidence of failure to have this compulsory insurance. The usual route for damages is through the courts, so there are currently no plans for a Government-backed fund."
Mr Walsh told the Post: "I've spoken to Mrs O'Dowd on numerous occasions and we're still waiting for her to get back to us. I've made several offers (since October)."