Court Success: Successful defence of claim brought under the 6 pack regulations

  • Claimant suffered a serious accident when working as a refuse collector for the defendant
  • Unfortunately accidents involving refuse vehicles are a frequent occurrence
  • At trial the judge found that the accident was caused by the claimant

Peet v Wigan Borough Council (Wigan County Court)

Background

The claimant was involved in a serious accident when working as a refuse collector for the defendant. The claimant alleged that as he attempted to climb on to a stationary vehicle, he lost his footing and fell backwards onto the ground. The refuse vehicle then started to move backwards and reversed over his right leg causing a crushing injury.

The law

The claimant was employed by the defendant and therefore sought to allege that the claimant’s injuries were caused or contributed to by the negligence of the driver for whom the defendants were vicariously liable.

The claimant also alleged that the claimant’s accident was caused or contributed to by the defendants or their employees under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and/or the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Legal arguments

The defendant disputed the claimant’s version of events. The driver maintained that at the time of the accident the vehicle was slowly moving forwards. He had put the left lock on when suddenly and without warning the nearside door opened but before he could react he heard someone cry out. The accident happened quickly and unexpectedly and the driver had no time to react.

It was further denied that the refuse lorry was defective or unsuitable in any way. The vehicle was specifically designed and constructed for the job of refuse collection.

Decision

At trial, the judge found that the accident was caused by the claimant running and attempting to get on to a moving vehicle. There was no responsibility on the part of the driver. The claimant had acted dangerously and in direct contravention of the defendant’s health and safety handbook. The claimant had been trained and provided with a copy of the handbook.

Commentary

Unfortunately accidents involving refuse vehicles are a frequent occurrence. To be in a position to defend similar claims defendants need to demonstrate that work equipment was in full working order. In addition, employers must have in place appropriate health and safety policies, detailed risk assessments and they must also be able to provide evidence to confirm that staff have been adequately trained and instructed.

This claim was handled by Chris Harris in our Whiteley Motor Claims Team. Our panel solicitors Forbes represented us and our policyholder at court.