A man has successfully argued that his employer was negligent following an accident in which his right arm was crushed underneath a 200 kg loader part.
Loaders are earthmoving vehicles used in construction and landscaping projects. The plaintiff was a contracted mechanic who repaired loaders and other heavy equipment for the defendant – a building supplies firm.
On the day of the accident, the man was asked to fix a problem with the loader's fuel tank. This required him to remove the vehicle's bash plate, which is a piece of material affixed to the bottom of the loader to protect the undercarriage from damage.
The man was removing screws from the bash plate when it fell onto his right arm and caused serious injuries. He continues to suffer mobility issues, ongoing pain and depressive moods following the September 2007 accident.
Witnesses agreed the loader was frequently breaking down, with the fuel line often needing cleaning and repairing.
In April 2007, the bash plate was removed to fix the fuel line before being reattached. However, the plaintiff saw the bolts didn't align properly on the left side.
His employer told him to weld the left side of the loader and reuse the bolts, which were apparently worn and rounded, on the right side of the vehicle. The employer agreed to provide a more permanent solution later that week.
Unfortunately, he later forgot and it was the welded part that gave way when the plaintiff later removed the bash plate's bolts on the day of the accident.
The employer's failure to rectify a known defect that could cause injury was therefore deemed negligent.
Justice Megan Latham awarded the man nearly $600,000 in non-economic losses, out-of-pocket expenses and past domestic assistance costs.
The plaintiff will also receive a sum for past and future lost income, which will be calculated at a later date.
However, the man's final lump sum payment will be reduced by 40 per cent due to his own negligence in causing the accident.
According to Justice Latham, the man didn't adequately inspect the loader before beginning the bash plate removal, which would have quickly shown the temporary weld repair.
He also failed to use a forklift or other safety equipment to support the bash plate's weight prior to commencing the job. Nevertheless, the man should receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation to cover the costs associated with his injuries.
If you would like to pursue work injury damages, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to see how we can help.