Edmund was operating an 18 tonne refrigerated lorry. He was making a delivery to the Quayside Shopping Centre in Derry. The vehicle had a tail lift, which was in operation and level with the floor of the lorry. Edmund was on the back of the lorry putting the cages back on and tidying up. He was operating a hand truck, it was situated on the tail lift as this was the only space available. He put 6 boxes of frozen produce on it for the next delivery. The hand truck was facing inwards towards the lorry. Edmund put his right foot on the trolley to prevent it from slipping and his left foot slightly behind himself to brace and ready himself into the walking position. Before he got to push it forward his left foot slipped back as soon as he put it down. His heel was about 6 inches from the edge of the forklift. He fell off backwards doing the splits in the process. He fell onto his left shoulder and the left side of his head.
As a result of this accident at work, Edmund suffered a fractured skull, a subdural haematoma with associated headaches, an injury to his left shoulder with buzzing in his left ear and associated hearing loss. He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment.
Work Accident Engineer Report
Edmund decided to pursue a personal injury claim as a result of his accident. On the recommendation of a friend, he instructed this firm to act on his behalf. It became apparent that the lorry which Edmund was using at the time of the accident was soon to be disposed of by his employer. Accordingly, we made arrangements for a consulting engineer on behalf of Edmund to carry out an inspection of the vehicle. This report made a number of points:
- The floor of a lorry was 1.18m above ground level. This would classify it as working at height.
- The work at height regulations stated that every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury. The engineer was of the view that one way of reducing the risk in this situation would have been to provide a surface with a high degree of slip resistance.
- The engineer measured the roughness of the tail lift. This indicated that the surface was at best borderline in terms of its potential for being slippery in the presence of water. Further work at height regulations state that work at height should only be carried out when weather conditions do not jeopardise the health or safety of the person involved in the work.
- The size of the lift was such that Edmund was required to manoeuvre himself into vulnerable positions close to the edge of the tail lift whilst trying to exert forward force to move items back into the body of the lorry. This created a risk that could have been reduced by making the tail lift the full width of the lorry.
Various Injury Consultant Reports Required
As a result of the injuries which Edmund sustained it was necessary to obtain reports from a Consultant Neurologist, a Consultant Psychiatrist, an Orthopaedic Surgeon, an ENT Surgeon and a Consultant Clinical Psychologist. The outcome of these investigations was that Edmund had suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of this fall which also included post traumatic headaches, vertigo, memory and emotional complaints. The post traumatic vertigo settled in the months after the accident and the experts felt that the memory complaints and mood disturbance were a recognised consequence of the brain injury. A number of tests were also carried out by a Consultant Clinical Psychologist. The results of those were that there was no marked cognitive disturbance at 20 months after the accident, however this testing supported Edmund’s view that his memory and concentration were not as good as they were prior to the accident.
Unfortunately, these injuries meant Edmund was no longer able to carry out his job. Accordingly, he resigned from his position and took on a lower paid position. It was our contention that Edmund suffered an ongoing deduction in his wages as a direct result of this accident.
Accident at Work Claim Success
High Court Proceedings were issued in the case and the matter was listed for trial. Prior to the date of the trial, negotiations were entered into between the parties and the case settled in the sum of £100,000 plus costs.
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