I was horrified to read about a three-year-old boy losing his arm after becoming trapped in a washing machine while at home. Lewis Wrench, from Crewe, in our neighbouring county of Cheshire, was found by his mum, covered in blood, with his arm detached and still in the washing machine, which was still on, last month.
Ms Wrench heard her son screaming and ran from the living room. She asked him what happened and he told her that he “opened the door and went round and round and round and I banged my head and then my arm fell off”.
Lewis was rushed to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital on the morning of the accident, but despite best efforts, surgeons were unable to reattach his arm, and he may be required to undergo further surgery and will be fitted with a prosthetic arm.
Clearly, the accident requires further detailed investigation, and I understand that the washing machine, which was rented by Ms Wrench, and whose make is unknown, has been removed by Trading Standards investigators for the purposes of inspection.
If it is correct that Lewis was able to open the door and put his arm inside, while the front loader was running, then this begs questions as to whether there was a defect with the rental machine and it may mean that Lewis, via his mum, could sue the renters and/or the manufacturers of the defective washing machine for compensation for the horrific, life changing injuries he has sustained. The circumstances of the accident are however, far from clear, and it is yet to be determined whether there is in fact a defect with the machine.
The story demonstrates that even in the safety of their own home, and under the supervision of parents, young children can still sustain horrific injuries. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, ROSPA, estimates that more than 1 million children under the age of 15 experience accidents in and around the home every year, and that most at risk from a home accident are children in the age group 0-4.
ROSPA believes that most of these accidents are preventable through increased awareness, improvements in the home environment and product safety. ROSPA statistics show that most accidents happen in the living/dining room, but as in Lewis’s case, the most serious accidents happen in the kitchen and on the stairs.
Whether Lewis’s accident was preventable, only time and the results of the Trading Standards investigation will tell. It may be that it was a very tragic accident, rather than as the result of any negligence or defect. It is clear however that many accidents in the home could be prevented, and if you are worried about potential dangers faced by your children, I would encourage you to have a look at the ROSPA website, which is very helpful and which produces informative fact sheets, which provide sensible advice on the prevention of accidents.
Whether Lewis was motivated to open the washing machine by simple childhood curiosity, or a desire to help his mum with her chores, the outcome has been incredibly tragic for this little boy.
Should your child have sustained an injury which you believe was as a result of negligence, then we at Stephensons have a very experienced team, who are willing and able to help.
You can speak directly to one of our specialists by calling 0844 245 6601 and your enquiry will of course be dealt with in the strictest of confidence.
By personal injury solicitor and Stephensons' Partner, Kate Sweeney