We often act for people that have experienced traumatic accidents, and as a result sustained horrific injuries. While we can’t turn back time, we do fight to ensure that they receive fair compensation, to get their lives back on track. Recently we spoke with one of our past clients, Dan Heinemann. We are delighted to be able to share his story with you.
Dan and his beautiful wife Deb live in Gracemere, North Queensland. Both are extremely proud of their adult children Ben and Kerrie, as well as loving grandparents.
On the 19th September 2007, Dan and his family’s lives would be changed forever.
Dan worked as a cleaning contactor in Central Queensland, spending his days on site cleaning mining equipment. Dan’s work took him all over Australia, working on huge equipment at various locations.
Deb recalls that the day of the accident seemed to be a normal, regular day, with the difference being Dan instead drove to work on this day, approximately 21km to where he was working.
Dan was filling in for a mate on a 3-day job that day. When he was leaving on the third morning, he said to Deb, “I will be home early today as the job is finishing early.”
On site, Dan was working underneath a large shade awning with large cement columns to hold it down. Unknown to him, the awning wasn’t correctly pinned down or secured.
One gust of wind was all it took to blow the huge structure into flight, with a large beam swinging through the air crashing in to Dan, almost cutting him in half. The impact of the concrete column at speed should have killed him.
At 2pm that day, Deb got a phone call to say Dan had been injured at work and he was on his way to hospital in an ambulance.
“Hundreds of thoughts ran through my mind on my way to the hospital.” At this point, Deb had no idea of the massive injuries Dan sustained, nor of how their lives would be forever changed.
Dissected Aorta, Smashed L1 and L3 vertebrae, cracked ribs, split spleen, cracked chest wall and cracked scapular. He was also bleeding into his lungs.
When she arrived at the hospital, Deb was informed that her husband only had a 50% chance of survival. If he did survive, he would be a paraplegic and he would not have the use of his bowel or bladder. He needed to be airlifted to specialists in Brisbane immediately.
Incredibly, Dan survived, went on to have multiple surgeries and then spent 2 weeks in the ICU ward at the Royal Brisbane Hospital (RBH) and 1 week in the RBH General Ward. He was then transferred for a further 6 months in the Spinal Injury Unit at the Princess Alexandria Hospital. Deb was a constant fixture by his side, and attending to all his needs and that of the family – she held it all together.
It was during this time that our director, Faran Gouldson, went to meet with Deb and Dan in the spinal injury unit accommodation Deb was staying in, while Dan was in hospital. Dan and Deb immediately impressed Faran as hard working honest people, who were trying as hard as they could to adapt to this massive change in their lives. Deb was a rock of support behind her loving and devoted husband Dan.
It was a long road for Dan, for Deb and for our team with the process of the workers compensation claim including treatment and rehabilitation taking many years.
The claim period was complicated and lengthy because there were 4 separate parties who needed to share responsibility for the accident, and who each in turn sought to blame the other parties.
On 16th August 2011, almost 4 years to the date of injury, the claim proceeded to compulsory settlement conference where all parties were in attendance for the purpose of attempting to negotiate a settlement of the claim. Four respondents in all were involved in the claim, including Dan’s employer. At the conclusion of several hours of negotiation the final combined offer from all parties was $0. This was a devastating outcome for Dan and Deb, after an extremely emotional day, at the end of over 4 years of an emotional roller coaster.
A Claim, Statement of Claim, and a Statement of Loss and Damage was prepared in order to have proceedings commenced in the Supreme Court.
The Respondents made an attempt at further negotiation, but despite the offer being substantial, we advised Dan not to accept the offer and to press forward with litigation.
On the final day available for acceptance of Dan’s final offer at mediation, the respondents jointly accepted his final offer of settlement.
Given the complexity of the claim, and the multiple parties involved, we were over the moon for the result for our client, as the settlement would provide him and his family the money to live comfortably. It would allow Dan to undergo the treatment options open to him, to attempt to minimise his pain experience, and to allow him to achieve the best quality of life possible in the circumstances.
We caught up with Deb and Dan recently and were delighted to hear that they are doing well, and that they have been exploring treatment options for his ongoing neuropathic feet pain.
In 2013 they travelled to Bangkok Better Being Hospital for a 6 week treatment course, which involved stem cell implants, acupuncture and therapy. It was a holistic, whole body approach.
Dan has also undertaken 8 months of Brain Wave Therapy, which attempts to reprogram the brain to allow for better management of pain. These treatments have, for the most part, been aimed at reducing Dan’s pain. He has had great success – his pain level was reduced down from 9 / 10 to 2 / 10 for a period, an enormous change for any chronic pain sufferer.
The settlement that Dan received has allowed him to explore a number of treatment options previously out of reach to him, and otherwise focus on achieving the very best quality of life in their future life together. Outside of caring for Dan, Deb spends her down time doing what she loves; creating art, and additionally has become a successful Thermomix sales consultant. She has a Facebook page devoted to her artistic creations, Visual Embellishing. Debra Heinemann.
We are inspired by how Dan and Deb have approached this experience and by how they have been able to approach life in such an incredibly positive way, in circumstances where life dealt Dan a horrible hand. Seeing families refocus, regroup, and come together to support each other post-accident is why we are driven to do what we do. Great outcomes like this put a smile on our faces. Congratulations to Dan and Deb for your unfailing determination and strength, you inspire us all.