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Garage and motor repair injury claims

Solicitors in London

Stephanie Prior is ‘very warm’ and ‘caring’, and an ‘exceptional professional’.

Legal 500

Garage and motor repair injury claims

The motor repair industry employs 170,000 people, mostly in small to medium sized businesses, and many on a self-employed basis. Job security is not great and neither are safety records. There have been over 8000 injuries and 24 deaths in the industry in the last 5 years (HSE figures).

Cause of injuries

Most accident arise from trips, slips and falls or from manual handling. There are many cases of workers being crushed by vehicles that are being repaired and these accidents in particular can cause very serious injury to mechanics and other motor repair workers.

Trips and slips are an everyday hazard in a garage environment and generally cause the more minor injuries. Common sense dictates that if a car is leaking oil then the spillage on the ground below it should be cleaned up, and cordoned off in the meantime, but some garage proprietors lack the attention to safety necessary to minimise these predictable accidents.

More serious can injuries occur when the right tools are not available or not kept in good condition. Work processes that involve manual handling have to be assessed, and mechanised where possible, otherwise the risk of injury should be reduced to a minimum.

Recent case study

Osbornes acted for Mr A, an experienced mechanic who loved his job and was good at it. Part of the job involved tyre fitting and he was frequently required to transport a van load of lorry tyres from the yard to a machine inside the workshop. Rolling them along the ground was no problem but then he had to lift them onto a machine, and some of them were the whole wheel and not just the tyre. This job took several hours and he found it extremely hard work. There was no system in place at all and so he did this job as best he could. One day in the course of this work he was lifting a lorry wheel when his shoulder gave out. He attended hospital and was diagnosed with ligament tear and cartilage damage. He could not lift his arm above the shoulder and was unable to return to work. Despite physiotherapy there was no improvement and so he underwent surgery. That operation increased his range of movement slightly but he was still unfit to resume his old duties and had to give up his job as a mechanic. The case was fought on liability, the employers arguing that Mr A caused his own accident and/or that the shoulder injury was not accident related. An out of court settlement was reached after court proceedings and Mr A received about £30,000 to compensate him for his injury and for the fact that he could no longer work as a mechanic.

Osbornes Partner Stuart Kightley recovered over £130,000 for a garage mechanic who suffered a knee injury at work. A colleague negligently left a van in gear on a ramp in the workshop. It rolled down, crushing Mr D against the front of the vehicle he was working on. He suffered a serious fracture to the tibeal plateau below the knee. The fracture was treated conservatively but it malunited and he needed surgery to cut and reset the bone. He was unable to work for three years and after that was no longer fit for heavy manual work. Court proceedings were issued and the defendants obtained their own expert evidence. They even obtained surveillance evidence, which is relatively common in higher value cases in order to verify the extent of the disability claimed. The problems for Mr D were that he was in his 50s and had worked as a mechanic all his working life, and because he suffered from learning disabilities was not able to find suitable alternative work. Furthermore, he was self-employed and the record of his earnings was patchy. These are common problems in work accident cases and the job of the lawyer is to obtain the evidence necessary to show the real loss and ensure the claimant recovers as much of that loss as possible. The case settled at a round table meeting with solicitors and barristers shortly before trial.

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