Claiming compensation: Forklift truck injury
February 5, 2021
We recently helped a client recover compensation for injuries he sustained while helping to move a forklift truck, which his employers had left blocking the entrance to their depot. He had been sent to collect sacks of sand and other building materials but, upon arrival, realised the broken down forklift was preventing him from driving his van through the gate of the depot, with no arrangements having been made to remove it
Other contractors had arrived to do some work at the depot, but were also unable to get in. The employers, who were responsible for the forklift, had still done nothing about it. These contractors were preparing to push it out of the way when our client arrived. Like most conscientious employees, he wanted to help, so he joined the other contractors in pushing the forklift out of the way. However, as soon as they all started to push, the effort caused one of his Achilles tendons to rupture, an injury which is very painful and takes months to heal.
When he sought our help, we immediately took the view that it was the employers’ fault. Not only had they made no arrangements to remove the forklift, they also failed to instruct or inform our client about this obstruction preventing him from entering the depot.
The employers and their insurers took a very different view. Instead of giving our client credit for attempting to resolve a problem which was entirely their fault, they said it wasn’t his job and thus, he shouldn’t have tried to help. They were so adamant about this defence that they rejected our client’s offers to settle for a reasonable sum, offers which also would have seen our client accept a share of the blame. While they didn’t dispute the facts of what happened, they simply denied it was their responsibility, despite acknowledging it was their forklift blocking our client’s entry to the location he’d been sent to work. Acting out of responsibility and loyalty to his employers, as well as being eager to complete his own tasks, our client justifiably felt helping to move the forklift was the correct action to take.
The trial was delayed because of the first Covid lockdown, before being conducted by telephone, with witnesses giving evidence and barristers making submissions over a conference call.
Conclusively, the judge decided that the employers should have considered the possibility of contractors needing to enter the depot. Additionally, it was decided that they should have anticipated the contractors would want take matters into their own hands, considering the employers hadn’t arrange to move the forklift. Our client was just doing his best to help which they would have foreseen had they conducted a risk assessment of the situation. The judge found that our client was one-third to blame because he could have called his employers for instructions when he arrived at the depot entrance, However, as the employers had not accepted a sensible offer our client had made, they were ordered to pay a penalty of 10% extra damages, as well as further interest and costs. As a result, the final sum equated to significantly more than what would have been paid out had the employers accepted the initial offer.
If you feel you were acting appropriately when you suffered a work-related accident, don’t just accept responsibility if your employer says you were to blame. If you want to discuss the possibility of claiming compensation after an accident, call James Hemsley or Beth King on 020 8313 1300, or contact them by email at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
The information contained in this article is intended for general guidance only. It provides useful information but it is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice as the articles do not take into account specific circumstances. So do please Contact US for legal advice on the issues raised.