Peter Aspinall, 64, had been asked to prune a sycamore tree in the grounds of a hotel, but instead of leaning his ladder against the trunk he placed it against the branch he was hacking down.
Now Mr Aspinall, who had worked at the Egerton House Hotel near Bolton, Lancashire, for just two weeks, is suing them for compensation.
He took the action after health and safety inspectors concluded the hotel failed to carry out a risk assessment on the dangers of pruning.
They also said that his employer should have given him training on where to place the ladder.
The hotel owners have now been fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 council costs and a £15 victim surcharge by magistrates in Bolton after pleading guilty to health and safety breaches.
How did he reach the age of 64? Did he have to fill out his compensation claim in a crayon, as I certainly wouldn't trust him with anything as sharp as a pencil....