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Shipping container port ordered to pay pedestrian $275,000.00 in forklift accident

Case Overview
  • Our client was within a shipping container port, when a container started moving towards him. Fearing for his safety, our client jumped out of the way, and as a result of this quick action, he sustained a serious injury to his left foot and ankle.
  • We launched legal proceedings against the port container terminal. We commissioned a liability expert report that found the Defendant had failed to effectively implement all of the relevant requirements of the work, health and safety regulations.
  • The Defendant was ordered to pay our client a substantial award in compensation of $275,000 as a result of the Defendant’s negligence and causing our client serious injury.

Our client was with a friend within a shipping container port in the northwestern suburb of Newcastle when he was required to use the bathroom. As our client exited the container, he began walking in the direction of the bathroom, and all of a sudden and without warning a container started moving towards him. Fearing for his safety, our client was required to jump out of the way of the fast-moving container. As a result of our client taking quick action in jumping out the way, he sustained a serious injury to his left foot and left ankle.

Whilst our client was on the ground, he observed that the container was being moved by a forklift operated by one of the employees of the port container terminal. Our client was wearing a his-vis vest at all times. Our client stated that no spotter was provided with the forklift to ensure pedestrians were clear of the area. The forklift was a standard large forklift with forklift tines pushing the container and overhead lifter. The container was a large shipping container.

"It was quite foreseeable and should have been foreseeable to the Defendant prior to the incident that the apparent failure of the Defendant to ensure to conduct adequate risk assessments all within accordance with the work, health & safety regulations were reasonable preventative actions which the Defendant should have implemented to avoid our client being exposed to a risk of injury that could have been very much reduced if not entirely obviated."

Liability Expert's Report Excerpt
Our Approach

The port container terminal denied liability in relation to our client’s claim. We launched legal proceedings against the port container terminal in negligence and some of the particulars of negligence included the forklift driver moving the container without having any vision of what was in front of the container. We commissioned a liability expert report and that report found that the Defendant had failed to effectively implement all of the relevant requirements of work, health and safety regulations including the apparent failure to carry out risk assessments and control foreseeable risks.

Furthermore, the liability expert found the apparent failure of the Defendant to have implemented safer systems of work, in particular the failure to have ensured that forklifts are allowed/permitted to travel within close proximity to pedestrians at a speed above walking pace, spotters are provided when moving loads or that appropriate actions were effectively implemented.

It was the liability expert’s opinion that it was quite foreseeable and should have been foreseeable to the Defendant prior to the incident that the apparent failure of the Defendant to ensure to conduct adequate risk assessments all within accordance with work, health & safety regulations were reasonable preventative actions which the Defendant should have implemented to avoid our client being exposed to a risk of injury that could have been very much reduced if not entirely obviated.

With respect to our client’s injuries, he was required to have surgery on his left ankle and surgically repair the Achilles rupture. Recovering from it was complicated by an infection which necessitated further surgery. Due to our client also falling on his left hip, he suffered symptoms with his left hip and lower back for which he required treatment. It was found that our client was suffering from 20% permanent impairment of his back and 15% permanent loss of efficient use of his left ankle and left leg as a result of the incident. It was determined that his injuries had affected his ability to lead a normal life and reduced capacity to participate in normal social, domestic, recreational, sporting and employment activities.

The Result

The proceedings were referred to a hearing on the liability and medical issues for determination. At the completion of the hearing, the Defendant was ordered to pay our client a substantial award in compensation of $275,000 as a result of the Defendant’s negligence, causing our client serious injuries. Our client was very pleased with the outcome and resolution of the matter.

Nassir Bechara Lawyer

Nassir Bechara

Senior Associate
It means a lot to me to defend clients who have been significantly disabled by injuries which have been caused by the negligence of others and to be able to help them receive fair and proper compensation which in most cases will assist in changing their lives
Frequently Asked Questions

More Information

Slips, trips and falls that occur in a public place, such as a shopping mall, car park or supermarket, can lead to public claims.

However, you must be able to show that your accident was due to negligence on behalf of the individual or organisation responsible for ensuring your safety in that environment.

In other words, you need to prove that you were owed a duty of care and that this was breached. You must also have suffered damage or an injury as a result of the negligence.
 

Public liability refers to the responsibilities owners or occupants of a public space have to protect anyone who enters. If the owners or occupants fall short of these responsibilities, resulting in an injury, a case for compensation can be made.

Some of the most common incidents covered by public liability law include:

  • The food or drink from a restaurant makes you sick: The most common example of this type of public liability is food poisoning, however improperly disclosed allergens could also lead to litigation.
  • A slip and fall accident caused by negligence: Slip and fall incidents are especially common in busy public places such as playgrounds, schools, shopping centres, common walkways in buildings and outdoor event venues. They can result from negligent behaviour if poorly lit, uneven, unmarked or slippery surfaces are involved, amongst other reasons.
  • Injury caused by poor workmanship: If a product used by a space fails mechanically and causes an injury, a public liability claim can often be made. Examples include exploding gas bottles, poorly constructed furnishings and inadequate building structures. These cases may also be eligible for product liability litigation, if you decide to pursue both the property owner and the product manufacturer.
  • An attack by an animal while in a space: If the owners or occupants of a space fail to keep an animal, whether domestic or wild, contained as a result of negligence, you may have a potential case.

 

Following an initial meeting, the first task will be to establish the general facts of the case. This will include your medical diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed and documented by a doctor; and proof that the person or company at fault owed you a duty of care, which will need to be demonstrated. Together, this will show that your injury occurred when they breached that duty of care.

From there a further investigation will proceed—contacting and interviewing witnesses, speaking with expert consultants, and more—all in order to bolster the strength of your case even further. Only once this process is complete, and your claim can be demonstrated and proven in full, will the process move on to the next step.
 

Public liability claims enable you to recoup the financial and emotional costs of suffering an injury due to someone else’s negligence. Defendants regularly offer monetary settlements to claimants, particularly if they acknowledge liability and believe they would lose in court.

But should you accept the settlement or proceed to the later stages of litigation instead, where a judge will have the final decision? Every case is different, but here are some of the factors you may wish to consider before making your choice:

  1. The size of the settlement
  2. The strength of your case
  3. Your patience levels
  4. Your lawyer’s advice

 

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 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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