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Graysons’ personal injury executive, Robert Burton, wins case at trial for lorry driver.

Robert’s client, Mr H, was a lorry driver, working for a haulage firm that carried bulk animal food. His job was to deliver the food to various locations. He started working for the firm in 2016.

lorryThe lorry he used was separated into several compartments by three partition doors.  When back in the haulage yard after making a delivery, the partition doors needed moving, ready for the next load. One of the directors of the firm asked Mr H to carry out the move.

The only way to navigate the lorry is to use some very narrow steps that go up both sides of the partition doors.  The steps are not non-slip and are made of narrow aluminium rod that has very little grip and little room for the climber’s feet. There are no hand grips and, out of necessity, Mr H and other drivers often used a pair of straps that run across the length of the trailer above the partition door as a makeshift handrail to help them up and over the doors.

At the time of the accident, Mr H had to navigate across the trailer.  It had been raining and the internal areas of the trailer were wet. Dust from the previous load remained and, along with the rain, made the navigation slippery and more difficult and dangerous than usual.

As Mr H made his way across the lorry, he grabbed the straps in the usual way, but his foot slipped off the steps and he fell, hitting his chest on the top of the door he was attempting to climb over.

An ambulance attended and took him to A & E, where he was told that he had sustained a soft tissue injury.  There was also some debate as to whether he had broken a rib. He had to take several weeks off work.

Mr H felt that the accident was the result of his employer’s negligence and contacted Graysons to see if he could claim compensation.  Robert took up the case.


Robert Burton

Robert arranged a medical examination, which confirmed the injury, and he contacted the employer, claiming, amongst other issues that it had breached its duty of care.

The employer denied liability throughout the claim, saying that Mr H had been properly trained to carry out the movement and that it was reasonably safe in all circumstances.  The employer admitted that there was no handrail and that the steps were aluminium, saying that non-slip material could not be used at is it was a hygiene risk and that animal feed would clog up the grip and make it slippery. It said that Mr H was not complying with his training in that “3 points of contact must be maintained at all times” and that all drivers were told not to use the straps. The employer’s witness also admitted that he had previously slipped in the same way as Mr H.

Robert has noted that all new lorries within the employer’s fleet now have small doors installed within the partition doors so that individuals no longer need to climb over them at all. This process had started before Mr H’s accident.

The case went to trial and Mr H was represented by counsel who said that the defendant’s case fell down on the basis that it had simply failed to give proper thought to this type of accident happening, or the fact that the steps were, by their design, slippery in inclement weather with debris.  This was despite it being aware that its own witness said that he had slipped before.

The judge found 100% in favour of Mr H, saying that he had not been told not to use the straps to assist him.  He had been using that method for some time and had not been found at fault in doing so.

As to contributory negligence, the judge found that Mr H had not been told not to use the straps to assist him despite him using that method for some time and that, accordingly, he had not been at fault in doing so. Mr H was awarded over £3,000, plus costs.

Mr H was delighted with the result of his case.

If you have had an accident at work and want to know whether you can claim compensation, contact our team now.  Our experts will arrange a free-of-charge meeting in which you can discuss your case and they can advise on the likelihood of success.  In the event that we can take on your case, we will offer you a no-win, no-fee arrangement. Find out more about making a personal injury compensation claim on our web pages.

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