Published in Truckstop News April 2013.

In this month’s issue Steven Hinchliffe of the specialist Personal Injury Compensation firm Hinchliffes Solicitors considers “ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY POOR LIGHTING AND GROUND CONDITIONS IN HGV TRAILER YARDS”

Continuing his review of successfully completed accident claims, Steven Hinchliffe looks at a situation experienced by a reader of Truckstop News that resulted in an award of personal injury compensation.

All of the accident victims mentioned in these articles are clients of my firm, Hinchliffes Solicitors.  They have kindly given permission for the disclosure of their details, and in particular their real life experiences of incidents resulting in personal injury claims, and the steps taken to make a successful accident compensation claim.  All of these clients contacted my firm after seeing our details in Truckstop News.

In this article I highlight an accident at work that occurred in a HGV tractor and trailer park, the main cause of which was a lack of adequate lighting.  I am sure that insufficient lighting in such areas is not uncommon, but when this is coupled with poor ground conditions such as potholes, debris on the floor, low walls and fences, this makes the risk of injury much greater.

As with previous articles, the common trend remains the effect on the injured person’s life, and although using the existing process of law to make personal injury claims as a means of redress cannot truly compensate for the trauma and inconvenience suffered, it can assist in requiring the guilty party to provide medical treatment and rehabilitation, in addition to financial relief by way of awards of compensation.

Please remember that significant changes to personal injury law come into effect on 1 April 2013.  After this date it is likely that solicitors will no longer be able to offer a service where clients keep 100% of their compensation.  The Government’s ill considered action means that the guilty party (or more usually their insurers) will in future only have to pay a fraction of the injured person’s legal costs.  As a result most successful claimants will lose up to 25% of their compensation as they will have to pay part of their own solicitor’s costs.  Therefore, if you have had an accident and are unsure whether to make a claim, act now.

WHAT ARE THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS?

A common situation is that a HGV driver will be required to either pick up or drop off a trailer and arrive at a yard in darkness.  Few employers provide torches and not all drivers carry one, therefore poor lighting can be a significant issue.  Employers are subject to various duties contained within numerous Health and Safety Regulations, and a sample of those relevant to this type of situation is out below.  However, if you are working in a yard operated by someone who is not your employer, or you are in a lorry park the duty to provide a safe working area is very similar.

(a)  To make effective provision for securing and maintaining sufficient and suitable lighting in the yard, pursuant to Regulation 8(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

(b)  To ensure that the surface of the yard is of a construction that is suitable for the purpose for which it is used, pursuant to Regulation 12(1) of the above Regulations.

(c)  To ensure that the surface of the yard is not uneven to such a degree as to expose someone to a risk to their health and safety, pursuant to Regulation 12(2)(a) of the above Regulations.

(d)  To keep the yard free from obstructions, pursuant to Regulation 12(3) of the above Regulations.

(e)  To provide or maintain a safe means of access to every place at which people have to work.

(f)   Not to expose someone to a danger or a trap and a foreseeable risk of injury.

CASE STUDY

In July 2008 my firm was contacted by David of Sheerness (full name withheld at the client’s request) in respect of his accident at work a few months earlier when he was at the Lydden Hill, Dover yard of Sealane Freight Ltd in the early hours of the morning.

David was in the yard trying to locate a trailer and as he walked between 2 trailers he tripped on a metal plate and fell.  It was necessary for there to be metal plates in the yard upon which the landing legs of the trailers could be placed, as the yard did not have a solid, even surface and without the plates the trailer legs would sink into the ground.  However, David did not see the plate that caused his accident because there was very poor lighting in the area.

He suffered a soft tissue injury to one of his fingers, but more significantly a complicated fracture of his thumb.  This involved extensive rehabilitation treatment including an injection and 2 operations.  To properly value his claim he also required an MRI scan, x-rays, a report from an A&E Consultant and 2 reports from a Hand Surgeon, the cost of which was included as part of his claim.

Although Sealane Freight’s insurers admitted responsibility for the accident at an early stage and later made a payment on account of the eventual compensation, because of the length of time it took for David’s injuries to heal it was not possible to consider settlement until early 2012.  It was therefore necessary to start Court proceedings prior to the expiry of the 3 year limitation period, to protect his position.  However, once the medical position was clear and full details of his financial losses were available (which included loss of wages following the various medical procedures) it was possible to quickly reach agreement.

David accepted compensation of just over £16,700, which included the sum of £9,750 for his injuries and a little under £7,000 for the financial aspects of the claim.  He kept the full amount as my firm’s costs were paid by the company’s insurers separately.  This case shows how a simple, avoidable trip can cause significant consequences.

Steven Hinchliffe, solicitor and Principal of Hinchliffes Solicitors      

© Copyright 2013 Hinchliffes Solicitors

PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM SOLICITORS:-

If you have suffered any form of accident or contracted an industrial disease contact personal injury claims specialists Hinchliffes Solicitors for immediate legal advice, to find out if you are entitled to make a claim for personal injury compensation.  All cases are conducted on a No Win No Fee and No Risk basis.

Call now on 0800 138 1348 to speak direct to one of our specialist claims solicitors or go to our Start Your Claim Now  page to submit details of your accident compensation claim online.

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