Successful Industrial Injury Claim
A County Durham HGV driver who was left with serious injuries after his vehicle overturned in high winds has claimed the end of a legal battle against his former employers as a significant victory for the safety of drivers everywhere.
Brian Young, 54, from Chester-le-Street, sustained a compound double wrist fracture, shattered ankle and shin, and lacerations to his face after his lorry overturned in strong winds in February 2008.
He enlisted the help of Rachel di Clemente, industrial injury solicitor at Newcastle-based personal injury law firm Irwin Mitchell, to take on his former employer TDG, which had eight HGVs in total turn over in high winds that year.
Mr Young was driving a 15ft high HGV loaded with empty plastic bottles from Consett to Bells Hill, near Glasgow, on February 21st, 2008. As he headed north on the A68 his lorry was blown over into a stone wall and he remained trapped in his cab for some time before being found.
Mrs Di Clemente said the vehicle was too light and that the firm should not have sent drivers out to work that day. She secured an £86,000 out-of-court settlement for Mr Young, and said it was a significant conclusion even though TDG did not admit liability for what happened.
She said: “This will force haulage companies to recognise their duty to protect HGV drivers and members of the public in hazardous weather conditions.
“The weather had been terrible that month and there had been several deaths on UK roads as a result of high winds – the entire country had been battered by gales.
“This claim was a difficult fight but it was worth pursuing – Mr Young was trying to earn a decent living when he was exposed to a risk which would have been unacceptable in any other area of work.
“Weather is a hazard which is guarded against in other industrial situations, such as employees slipping on ice, or construction workers carrying out work at height in high winds.
“There is a widespread misconception that employees working behind a wheel enjoy less protection from Health and Safety imposed upon employers.”
Mr Young said: “I will never work again as a result of my injuries but this was never about the money to me. I wanted to highlight the dangers posed to haulage companies in high winds and want to prevent similar accidents from happening again in the future.
“The risks posed to the drivers themselves, not to mention other road users, are huge. I am lucky to be alive but others were not so lucky – haulage companies must put the safety of their drivers before making money when conditions take a turn for the worse.”