Injured Woolworths back dock assistant claims negligence
Case concluded: 22nd February, 2017 Settlement amount: $788,669
The injured person in this matter was working for Woolworths as a grocery/back dock assistant. He was 28 years of age. In the course of his employment he was engaged in unloading pallets. The employer provided a walkie stacker which is a type of forklift machine. Unfortunately the machine was not operable at all times and it appears the worker was required at times to use a steel bar to shift and man-oeuvre pallets, a very heavy physical task. It was acknowledged that the pallets weighted up to approximately 1,200kg.
The critical issue in the case was whether the claimant’s back injury, which was a disc protrusion, was causally related to the accident. The employer contended that notwithstanding the heavy tasks he was required to perform, his back injury was not related to the accident. His employer stated his injury was caused by the use of a step ladder or his plumbing work after he completed his employment with Woolworths.
The employers principle concern appeared to be the fact the plaintiff did not report the injury to it or a medical practitioner for four and a half months.
The case is instructive of the fact that when a person sustains injury at work it is important to have the incident recorded in writing together with the nature of the injury sustained. If Mr Perkins had of reported his injury promptly it is likely he would not have been required to go to Court to ultimately prove that the injury occurred.
Fortunately for Mr Perkins the Judge found him to be a credible witness and said it is more probably than not that it was the employers negligence of permitting him to undertake the lifting task that caused his back injury.
Given Mr Perkins suffered a disc protrusion a very significant award of damages was made totaling $788,669.98. Future economic loss was the largest component of this matter with the Court taking the view that given Mr Perkins was only 29 years of age, he had a very long working life ahead of him. A loss of $700 per week for the rest of his working life was allowed, with a discount to reflect continuances of 40% and also the possibility of some ongoing employment. Future economic loss of $375,000 was awarded.
If you, as an employee are injured at work, it is vital to report the accident and the injury sustain in writing.