Man awarded more than $1.48 million for nail gun injuries

Date: Jul 05, 2018

A man who was left permanently disabled due to a nail gun injury he sustained while working as a property renovator has won more than $1.48 million of compensation.

The plaintiff was refurbishing a Paddington terrace house when a workman on an adjoining property fired a nail into a common wall between the two sites while trying to attach a timber block to the wall. The nail gun was powerful enough to penetrate the wood and two layers of brick before striking the plaintiff in the left temple.

His physical injuries included spinal cord damage, impaired balance and severe migraines. The man has also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and been unable to return to work since the accident.

The plaintiff received workers compensation payments from his organisation, but both he and the company sued the firm that employed the man responsible for the injuries.

Was the firm negligent?

The Civil Liability Act 2002 outlines the principles for establishing negligence in personal injury claims. The key areas of dispute in this case were whether the risk of injury from the nail gun was:

  • Not insignificant.
  • Obvious.
  • Inherent.

Justice Des Fagan ruled the employee who fired the nail gun should have been aware of the tool's power and its ability to penetrate certain materials. This knowledge is attributable to his employer, making them liable for any injuries their workers cause.

The judge found the risks were not insignificant and were not obvious to any reasonable person in the plaintiff's position. He did not know a workman was using a nail gun on the adjacent property and so could not take reasonable precautions to prevent himself from injury.

This type of injury was also not an inherent risk. Justice Fagan said there were other ways to fix timber blocks to masonry walls that were less dangerous.

How were the damages calculated?

Successful public liability claims often result in significant compensation payouts when the plaintiff is left permanently disabled and cannot work again. In this case, the plaintiff received:

Non-economic losses (such as pain and suffering): $214,500.
Past and future loss of income and superannuation: $957,435.
Out-of-pocket expenses: $136,903.
Future medical expenses: $132,735.

The judge also awarded the man money for domestic support, rehabilitation contingency costs and equipment for any care needs. While the plaintiff's life may never be the same again following the accident, his public liability claim will at least provide a crucial financial safety net for the future.

Are you entitled to similar compensation for accidents you have experienced due to someone else's negligence? Please contact a member of our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to find out if you are eligible to claim.

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