The Penningtons Manches personal injury team has recently settled a claim for damages against a large recovery organisation whose employee, a roadside technician, suffered a significant back injury when he was required to do significant manual handling without the appropriate work equipment.
As the claimant’s designated roadside technician van was out of action, he was provided with a small saloon hire car. This was a standard practice for the employer in such circumstances. To transfer his roadside technician equipment into the small car, the claimant had to negotiate the equipment out of his van and into the boot of the hire vehicle. He had removed a heavyweight car jack from the rear of his van and was in the process of lifting it back into the rear of the small car when he had an immediate onset of back pain.
The claimant, who had already notified his employer of a pre-existing back condition and made requests for a change in work equipment prior to the accident, suffered a disc prolapse as a result and had to undergo several operations to his spine over a period of two years. Unfortunately, he has been left with ongoing pain, stiffness and restricted mobility and is unlikely to return to his previous employment role.
Following an investigation, the Penningtons Manches personal injury team submitted a claim to our client’s employer and insurer which was initially fiercely disputed. However, the team managed to obtain an admission of liability and subsequently negotiated a substantial settlement on behalf of the claimant.
Philippa Luscombe, partner in the personal injury team, commented: “This is a clear example where an employer has breached its duty of care to their employee by failing to provide adequate equipment. The employer was aware of our client's back difficulties prior to the accident and no alternative was offered in respect of the lifting required or alternative equipment provided. There was a failure to change the working requirements of our client to avoid the risk of him being injured. Had the employer taken simple steps to put alternatives in place, our client’s permanent injuries would have been avoided.”