Not every personal injury claim can succeed but that is almost never due to any want of trying on the part of victims' legal teams. In a recent case, however, a lorry driver who was gravely injured when an articulated truck and trailer rolled over him had his claim for damages dismissed.
The driver had been detailed by his employer to drive a tractor unit to a yard and to pick up a loaded trailer which had been parked there by a subcontractor. Tractor and trailer were parked on a slope and there was no dispute that neither of their brakes were applied when they rolled forward and crushed him.
A damages claim was pursued on the driver's behalf against his former employer, with 16 allegations of negligence made. It was argued, amongst other things, that the employer had failed to train and supervise the driver properly, to carry out adequate risk assessments and to provide him with a safe system of work.
Ruling on the matter, the court found that the cause of the accident was the driver's inadvertent failure to take the most basic safety measure of engaging the tractor's handbrake. That failure persisted in the face of ample audible and visible alarms and there were no distractions that could have explained his omission.
He had been taken on by the employer shortly before the accident and the court found that its attitude towards risk assessment and his induction into the health and safety aspects of his job left a lot to be desired. However, its breaches of duty in those respects did not cause the accident.
He was an experienced driver and his employer had not been negligent in respect of training or the provision of a safe system of work and equipment. The subcontractor was also not at fault in that he had engaged the trailer's brake before parking it. The driver's claim was dismissed.