Man seeks damages from employer for steel beam work accident

Date: Jun 10, 2015

Workplace injuries can have a significant impact on the victim, particularly if an accident results in a total and permanent disability (TPD). The emotional and financial strain, along with any physical discomfort, can make it difficult to re-join the workforce.

A man who found himself in this position after sustaining an injury at work is currently in the process of pursuing damages from his employer. A TPD claim can help people receive compensation for economic losses, pain and suffering from accidents that prevent them from returning to work.

The man was loading steel beams into the rear of a truck when one of the beams allegedly fell from its holding chains onto his legs. The plaintiff tried to jump clear but claimed he was subsequently trapped underneath, with the accident causing serious damage to his right knee.

According to NSW Supreme Court documents, a crane was lowering the beams onto the bed of the truck while the plaintiff was positioned below. Justice Peter Hall said in his notes that the system was “plainly a hazardous one” and the man is now disabled despite undergoing surgery for the injury.

“Unless and until the beam being lowered was made secure by ensuring it was well supported upon a fixed surface before releasing either of the chains, any worker in proximity to it was exposed to a potentially serious hazard,” he added.

Transport Infrastructure investigated the accident, producing a report adding environmental conditions at the time of the incident were poor. This included a lack of lighting and slippery surfaces.

Confusion over liability

The case is still ongoing, and there has been substantial confusion over who should be held liable for the accident. The defendant, the plaintiff’s employer, claims another subcontractor working at the site when the injury occurred should share the burden.

The second company allegedly owned the crane and employed its operator, although this was disputed. Justice Hall said there is evidence to suggest the crane operator and other on-site supervisors had a responsibility to ensure the plaintiff’s workplace safety.

However, as the subcontractor has deregistered since the incident, the defendant has asked that the subcontractor’s insurer be joined to the legal proceedings instead.

Justice Hall ruled in favour of the defendant, meaning the plaintiff could now receive damages from either his employer or the insurer, depending on the final outcome of the case.

TPD claims can be complex and lengthy, which is why hiring an experienced compensation lawyer is always recommended. Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners if you are considering pursuing a case in NSW.

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