This is a matter which involved our client who was employed by a labour hire company to work in a factory which made various foods. Our client was performing his duties at the factory when a machine, a large vat which cooked the machine jammed. Our client attempted to climb a ladder on the vat to restart the machine when he fell. The ladder was attached to the vat but very small, difficult and slippery which was an accident waiting to happen.
Our client suffered serious injury to the right hand which involved some fractures and nerve damage.
The injury had the potential to affect the client in performing any manual work which is the type of work he has been carrying out in the past.
The public liability claim was commenced against the factory at which the client was asked to work at, not against the employer. The reason for this is that whilst he was technically employed by the labour hire company, he actually worked at the premises of the factory who had responsibility and care and control of the area and directed the plaintiff on how to work the particular job and responsible for providing a safe working environment.
A claim in public liability in this case was worth a potential amount significantly greater then the client could achieve in a straight works compensation matter which would have only allowed him to receive some lump sums for the injury at a very discounted rate under the workers compensation legislation together with some medical expenses and wages. A public liability claim allowed us to make a claim for injury, medical expenses for the past and future, wages in relation to the past and future and care in relation to the past and future, all our categories which are not claimable in workers compensation.
An expert engineer was engaged by our firm to prepare a report on the circumstances of the accident. A view took place at the factory with our client, the expert and myself. A very interesting day, as the factory being a food processing factory required strict procedures in maintaining cleanliness by wearing various articles of clothing an going through sections of the factory which required cleaning of hands and shoes.
A very helpful report which assisted our argument in negligence. Of interest is the type of ladder on the vat had now changed, obviously reviewed after the accident. It should however be remembered that rectification of problems after an accident is not evidence of negligence.
A settlement conference was arranged with the solicitors representing the factory. Negotiations took place and after lengthy discussions a public liability settlement was achieved in excess of $215,000.00. A very satisfactory result and a happy client who can now get on with his life.