Fall from ladder

The claimant was a gardener / acting supervisor required to attend a local park to prune cherry trees. He had done this sort of work for 20 years. To do so the claimant was provided with a step ladder and chainsaw. The claimant was descending the ladder after pruning a tree when the ladder fell over causing the claimant to fall. The ladder fell over either as a result of a defect on the ladder (a missing rubber foot) and/or the windy weather conditions.

The CJ accepted the defendants failed to have in place any system for checking ladders and that there was a general lack of training and lack of risk assessments.

Despite this he found the acts and behaviour of the claimant and the claimant's own evidence “not very impressive”, said he had a laissez-faire attitude to his own safety and failed to exercise common sense in that he failed to even inspect such a commonly used tool.

In the circumstances the judge made a finding of 60/40 in the claimant's favour.

The claimant sustained fractures to six ribs, two of which had not united. The claimant has ongoing trouble at the site of the two un-united fractures and a Smith award was claimed.

He had since been made a supervisor.

Damages were agreed subject to liability in the sum of £13,192.20 including a Smith award of £7,244.00.

Damages were reduced to £7,915.74.

Farrell -v- High Peak Borough Council.

Bus driver who had seen 'Speed' once too often

A bus driver was being physically attacked by some youths on the bus at the time of the accident.

The claimant was a pedestrian standing by a bus stop when the bus came off the road, struck the bus shelter and a part of the bus shelter came dislodged and struck the claimant on her right leg.

The claimant’s case was that the driver should have stopped the bus sooner than he did and thereby avoided the bus going out of control. A plan of the bus route showed bus stops the driver went past without stopping after the attack on him had started. Being in charge of such a large vehicle, a high level of care was required.

The defendants relied on the Court of Appeal judgment in Howe, where a taxi driver under attack caused his car to take off backwards and strike a pedestrian (one of his attackers) with fatal consequences. The court found that his unintentional act of moving backwards at speed was due to the attack he was under. The Judge distinguished Howe on the facts and found in this case the driver took a conscious decision to keep the bus moving forward and he was in breach of the duty of care the claimant could have reasonably expected of him.

McLaren -v- Travel West Midlands Limited, 13 June 2005.