Co. Down Lorry Driver Is Successful After Belgian Appeal Court Finds Company Responsible For Health And Safety Breaches

Compensation for injury and financial loss

09.07.2007

A HGV driver has been awarded compensation for injury and financial losses sustained as a result of an accident whilst he was delivering bibles in Belgium in 2003, after the Court of Appeal in Antwerp, Belgium overturned an earlier judgment.

Mr Hugh Herdman of Newtownards, Northern Ireland was asked to drive his lorry to the premises of a Belgium company to collect pallets of bibles for delivery on 13th January 2003.

On exiting the premises, he was directed to walk through a side door taking him down a flight of steps to the loading bay. It was dark and the steps had no hand rail. As he stepped onto the steps, the paving bricks were sunken and the steps slippery and he slipped and fell to the bottom.

Mr Herdman sustained a serious knee injury which has meant he has been unable to regain full knee extension, and has not been able to return to work as a lorry driver.
Mr Herdman decided to appeal the original Belgian court decision which failed to find the Belgium Company was to blame. With the assistance of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors he successfully took his case to the Court of Appeal in Belgium who overturned the earlier decision. They found that the stairs were not equipped with adequate lighting and did not have railings, and found the Belgium Company entirely liable.

Mr Herdman, whose compensation is still to be assessed by the court, said: “I am delighted with the court’s decision. It has taken a long time and I am very relieved that at last I will recover compensation for an accident that has ruined my life.”

Richard Bailey of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors added, “This was a terrible accident to occur and I am delighted for Mr Herdman that, having taken his case so far, he has now received justice. This case illustrates the need for all European countries to ensure that measures are in place to improve the safety of work premises.”