Employee’s evidence challenged in $565,000 negligence claim

Date: Feb 28, 2018

A pick and pack worker who sued his employer for $565,000 has seen his claim dismissed because of inconsistencies in his evidence.

The man said he suffered a serious back injury due to unsafe working practices at the company. However, his claims were called into question when the case reached NSW District Court.

On the day of the incident, he was collecting Christmas hampers from the site’s freezer section. These hampers were sent directly to customers, and the plaintiff said he was required to pick and pack between 170 and 180 cartons of items every hour.

Workers who failed to meet their targets were unlikely to receive extra shifts. According to the plaintiff, he injured his back while bending and stretching to pack a pallet in temperatures as low as -35 degrees Celsius.

Discrepancies in working conditions

The man’s legal team called upon the Civil Liability Act 2002, which governs the rules under which negligence is established in NSW. But was the company liable for the plaintiff’s injuries?

A medical practitioner provided a report on behalf of the plaintiff’s claim that said employees were required to perform strenuous work for long periods of time.

“I consider that the injury sustained by the plaintiff was directly caused by the unsafe conditions in the workshop at the relevant time,” the doctor stated.

“The work was heavy and by 4.5 hours into his shift the plaintiff’s muscles would be fatigued from the heavy, repeated lifting and from the workplace.”

But witnesses and contemporaneous evidence for the defendant showed the medical practitioner based his diagnosis on incorrect information.

First, the plaintiff had only been working for 2.5 hours when the incident occurred. Second, the plaintiff’s claim that he had to pick and pack 170 to 180 cartons of items an hour was shown to be false; the true figure was closer to 103 cartons over the 2.5 hours he worked on that particular day.

Judge rules on liability claim

Ultimately, the judge said it was difficult to ascertain whether or not the man’s injuries were caused by the employer’s negligence, as there was limited value to the medical reports and the plaintiff’s testimony.

He therefore ruled the plaintiff had failed to establish that his employer’s working conditions were unsafe or led to the injuries that he claimed.

The case highlights the importance of ensuring all evidence provided for negligence claims is relevant, accurate and convincing. No-win, no-fee personal injury specialists can help you build a strong claim that has the best chance of success should the case go before a judge.

Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers has decades of experience winning liability claims in NSW. Contact us today to see whether you are entitled to compensation.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.