Father of three sues over construction injury

A highly qualified tradesman left unemployed after suffering a gruesome injury on the worksite of the Crystalbrook hotel on the Cairns Esplanade has launched a massive $3.7m claim as he struggles to care for his young family.

Elliott Outman, 35, was working as a crane rigger on the Flynn hotel site being run by Prime Constructions in May 2018 when he became impaled on a metal rod protruding from the floor. The thin rod went into his leg, through his hip and into his abdomen, missing his femoral artery — and near certain death — by just 5mm and also narrowly missing his bladder and kidneys.

“(The doctor said) ‘you are so lucky, you had angels looking after you today’,” the Palm Cove father-of-three said.

But the injury has left him with debilitating pain, unable to return to work, with limited future job prospects, and completely broke after WorkCover payments stopped after 12 months.

“I can’t even afford treatment for myself,” Mr Outman said. “I don’t have the money to live, let alone do anything.”

His partner, Erin, gave birth to their son, Hunter, three weeks ago and Mr Outman has two older children, Con, 9, and Emily, 12, from a previous relationship. Mr Outman said Centrelink refused to consider him disabled, despite him qualifying for a car sticker, so he cannot receive that pension, and Erin is American so not entitled to any support.

It has been a bitter pill to swallow for Mr Outman, who had been working on offshore oil rigs since he was 18 — the third in his family to do so — and always been a strong provider for his family.

“It’s basically ruined my life,” he said. “I had the opportunity to do whatever I wanted in life (before the injury).”

Originally from Perth, he and Erin met in Darwin and decided to travel for a few months in 2018 before they briefly settled in Cairns, where his older children lived. With his significant qualifications, he said he found work on the Crystalbrook site almost immediately.

Mr Outman said the incident occurred when he was guiding the tower crane, and as he stepped off a ledge, the leg of his pants caught the rod which had originally been part of the deep sewerage works. He claimed there were many uncapped rods protruding from the concrete and workers had previously asked for them to be cut at the base, but nothing was done.

Mr Outman’s solicitor, Hunter McInnes from Turner Freeman Lawyers, said the incident was a prime example of how important safety on worksites was.

“The takeaway from this is basic safety would have avoided this,” he said.

The lawsuit, filed in the Cairns Supreme Court, involves a $1.94m claim against Prime and HPS — which performed the plumbing works — and $1.79m against WorkCover.

Prime did not respond by the deadline and none of the respondents have filed documents in court yet.
A court date is yet to be set.

Source: Cairns Post

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