Our client was the front rider on a tandem bike. He was rounding a sharp bend on a country road when he came off outside a farm. This was due to a lot of muck - maybe mud, manure or silage, which had spread from the property onto the road.

The claimant took photos a day after the accident. 

The Judge accepted these showed a hazard that the farmer should have cleaned away or at least about which he should have warned road users. It presented an even greater hazard coming on a sharp bend. 

The cyclist went down for 25% contrib’ as an experienced cyclist who should have anticipated and avoided such a large hazard.

Judgment against the farmer.

29 April 2009

Drawer flies open on train

The claimant was a customer service assistant with GNER trains. While pouring coffee, she noticed a sudden slight jolt of the train, probably caused as a result of the train going over the points, at which point the left hand drawer flew open hitting the claimant on her right knee. 

The claimant argued that the catch within the drawer on the train was defective and allegations of breach of statutory duty were made including breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 together with a breach of Regulation 5 (1) of the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. 

The defendants argued that the drawer was inspected after the accident and no defect was noted with regard to the catch. They also argued that the claimant was the author of her own misfortune by packing too much stock into the drawer, which could have interfered with the catch. 

At the trial, which took place on 10 March 2009, the defendants’ team manager was cross examined. He was the person who filled out the accident form alleging that the drawer had been inspected after the accident. 

He conceded that he only filled out the accident report two days after the accident and did not inspect the drawer himself. He based his account on information given to him by another employee two days after the accident. He further conceded that that employee had also not inspected the draw after the accident. They effectively based their defence on inspections on previous similar occasions. Helpfully, in the defence, it conceded that the catches had been modified in 2005 and 2006 as a result of complaints with the drawers opening unexpectedly.

The Judge accepted and preferred the claimant’s evidence that she was rigorous with regard to health and safety and she was supplied with insufficient stock with which to pack it too tightly in the drawer. In addition, she placed the stock in the draw in such a manner that the stock could never interfere with the catch. 

The Judge found therefore, on the balance of probability, that the drawer flew open due to a defect in the catch and also found that there was no direct evidence provided by the defendants that the drawer was actually inspected after the accident.

Newcastle upon Tyne CC,10 March 2009.