My client had been assisting at work with the loading of a HGV trailer. The trailer had been fully packed with goods, so much so that the rear doors could not be easily closed. Another worker decided to put a hay bale on the forks of his forklift truck and then push the bale against the doors to force the doors shut. Unfortunately, the forklift truck driver decided to do this whilst my client was still trying to manually close the doors, meaning that the driver lifted the bale over my client’s head to try and perform his manoeuvre. The bale then fell from height on to my client’s head knocking him to the ground and landing on top of him, causing him to momentarily lose consciousness.
The driver did manage to use his forks to lift the bale off of my client but significant spinal and chest injuries had been caused, which rendered my client unable to work for months. The spinal surgeon expert evidence confirmed that, whilst the Claimant had recovered well, he would be left with some permanent restrictions and would be at risk of suffering from early arthritis later on in his life.
We were able to recover compensation for the Claimant to reflect his pain and suffering as well has his past and future losses to include lost earnings and disadvantage on the labour market. Future rehabilitative treatment costs were also factored in and, whilst the Claimant would never be returned to his pre-accident condition, he was very happy that he took early legal advice that enabled him to secure compensation that would help him and his partner try and move on and restart the process of trying to build their life together.
This accident shows that a system of work will only be as safe as the least competent worker. Therefore, accidents at work are common and a company will be vicariously liable for the negligent acts or omissions of its workers or agents where they result in injury to another worker. All employers should have liability insurance to cover such injury claims and so workers should not be discouraged from recovering the compensation that they are entitled to as it has little, if any cost, to the employer. However, in practice we are only too aware that some employers will respond defensively to a claim even where the company or one of its staff was clearly at fault. That is why we always encourage early dialogue between the parties and with the company’s insurer to try and iron out any issues in dispute as early as possible and to avoid or minimize any impact on the Claimant’s day-to-day work life.