Widow Wins Compensation Ruling

Suicide After Accident At Work


The widow of a man who took his own life six years after an accident at work should be compensated by his employers, the House of Lords has ruled.

Thomas Corr threw himself from a multi-storey car park in May 2002 after he was left with severe headaches, unsteadiness and trouble sleeping when he was hit on the head by a metal panel.

Five Law Lords upheld a Court of Appeal judgment from March 2006 that his firm IBC Vehicles was responsible.

His widow, Eileen, of Calverton Road, Luton, went to the High Court in April 2005 to sue for £750,000 because of the pain and suffering caused by the industrial accident.

The company admitted liability for the accident but denied that its responsibility covered the suicide.

Lord Bingham said: "In the present case Mr Corr's suicide was not a voluntary, informed decision taken by him as an adult of sound mind making and giving effect to a personal decision about his future.

"It was the response of a man suffering from a severely depressive illness which impaired his capacity to make reasoned and informed judgments about his future, such illness being, as is accepted, a consequence of the employer's tort."

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David Urpeth, Partner and Head of Workplace Injuries at Irwin Mitchell said: "Accidents at work can and often do, cause psychological as well as physical injuries."

"I deal with many industrial accidents where the psychological injuries are more severe than the physical injuries and I am therefore delighted that in this case the House of Lords has recognised that an employers negligence led to Mr Corr taking his own life, and that his widow can recover damages for his death."

"The employer had argued that the suicide was not foreseeable, was too remote or that it broke the chain of causation. These arguments were rejected by the House of Lords. This ruling will assist other victims of workplace accidents in similar circumstances."