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William Jones, 46, was left in agony when his hefty colleague jumped on him for a prank as he bent down to pick up a tool at work.
He has been unable to work since.
Mr Jones, who claimed he heard a popping in his back immediately after the incident, eventually needed spinal fusion surgery to repair the damage.
A piece of bone was removed from his hip and placed into his spine as part of the surgery, and he now relies on family and friends for daily help because of his restricted mobility.
Mr Jones embarked on a compensation challenge against his former employers following the incident in 2006, and the claim was eventually settled out of court earlier this week.
He had worked as a lead operator at TRW Systems car parts factory, in Peterlee, for 21 years before the accident.
Thompsons Solicitors, which represented Mr Jones, said he had been given a “substantial” payout by TRW Systems.
He was forced to take more than four years off work before he was finally made redundant due to his condition.
He has since been told by his GP that he is unlikely to work again.
Thompsons successfully argued that TRW Systems was responsible for its employees’ actions in the workplace and the firm admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.
Mr Jones, who has moved to Hereford since the accident, said: “I’d worked for TRW Systems for 21 years and enjoyed my job.
“I still can’t imagine why my former colleague thought it would be funny to jump on my back. That joke has cost me my mobility and my career.
“I refuse to accept that I’ve suffered an injury which means that I will never return to work.
“I tried working in a charity shop but my back was just too painful. I hope now to do some training in a different area with a view that I will at some time be able to find a way to return to work.”
Diane Davison, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Mr Jones’ colleague was ‘just larking around’ but his actions have had a profound affect on Mr Jones’ life.
“Our case proved that TRW Systems had failed to make sure staff behaved appropriately in what is ultimately a dangerous factory environment and where pranks can lead to potentially lethal accidents.”
A spokesman for TRW Systems said the firm did not want to comment after the case.