Personal Injury

£20,700 damages for lorry driver who missed six months work after fall at customer’s premises


Sarah Kidd

Associate Solicitor and Manager of Fast Track Personal Injury Team

4 min read time

A lorry driver has been awarded damages of more than £20,000 by a court after breaking his ankle in a fall when delivering goods to a customer’s premises.

Charles Howard, of East Yorkshire, missed more than six months of work after his accident at Cargill PLC’s rape seed plant in Morley Street, Hull.

As part of legal action on his behalf, Sarah Kidd, of Hudgell Solicitors, alleged the business had failed in its duty of care under the Occupiers Liability Act to ensure visitors to site were safe.

Mr Howard, who was delivering a lorry load of rape seed to site from his own employer, slipped as he returned to his vehicle, which he’d parked in the ‘sampling bay’, after visiting the site office on his arrival.

It was alleged as part of the case that Cargills failed to adequately examine, inspect or maintain the area, allowing it to become ‘slippery and strewn with oil seed rape and dangerous’.

The incident, which happened in February 2018, was captured on CCTV.

Legal teams acting on behalf of Cargill PLC defended the case, claiming Mr Howard had in fact tripped over a ramp and that his boot laces had been untied, contributing to his fall.

The matter ended up in court and Mr Howard, 39, says he was delighted that a judge sided with him and thanked Mrs Kidd for her support in building his case.

“This has proved that it is worth battling for justice as I thought I stood no chance with me being just one man against a big business, but I am grateful to Sarah for her work and glad the judge considered all the evidence and found in my favour,” he said.

“I’d done the job for four years prior to this accident so I was not somebody who wasn’t careful. I simply didn’t see the rape seed oil, but when I hit the floor it was all over and it was no surprise that I lost my footing. It was agony.

“My employers were supportive of me and I had sick pay when I was off work for six and a half months, but that doesn’t go far when you have a mortgage and bills to pay, so it was a struggle and I don’t know where I would have been if I wasn’t able to turn to my dad for financial help.

“I wasn’t really surprised that they defended the case as I know companies like to highlight safety records and how long they go without accidents, but it is only right that people be compensated when they suffer injuries like I did.

“The damages payment has meant I have been able to pay back my dad what I owe him, which was very important to me.”

Owners of premises are duty bound by law to ensure they are safe for visitors

Mrs Kidd, a specialist in handling cases involving accidents in the workplace, said she was pleased with the result for Mr Howard.

The case was brought against Cargill PLC under the Occupiers’ Liability Act, under which premises owners have a duty to ensure that visitors to the site are reasonably safe.

“Whilst it would be unreasonable to expect that working businesses and yards are constantly cleaned, it is expected that occupiers take steps to ensure that areas are maintained in such a manner that they do not become dangerous,” said Mrs Kidd.

“In this case it was particularly important given that rape seed oil became invisible on the ground when crushed. CCTV footage showed that this injury was caused by a slip rather than a trip, and there was no documentary evidence provided by the Defendant of an inspection or cleaning regime. They fell short of their duty of care.”

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