Back injury caused by 'dodgy' seat lands truck driver $500k payout December 20, 2019
A Queensland truck driver who suffered a prolapsed disc and ongoing back pain after raising concerns about his seat has been awarded more than half a million dollars in compensation.
James Anthony Griffin, now 38, injured his back during a routine run from Townsville to Rockhampton in March 2014. The incident followed several complaints he made about the seat since starting to drive for Burleigh Marr Distributions in August of the previous year.
A truck driver who had complained about his seat before suffering a back injury has been awarded more than $500,000 in compensation.Credit:Rob Homer
Repairs had been carried out months later on the Fuso truck's seat, which felt like it had "collapsed" on one side, according to a Supreme Court judgment delivered on Wednesday.
But the truck was still uncomfortable to drive the roughly 3000 kilometres he travelled each week.
Mr Griffin recalled the seat "bottoming out" during a journey in March 2014, as it usually did along certain points of the road when he approached a bridge about 20 kilometres north of Ayr.
The court heard he came down harder than usual and began to experience pain through his back, radiating like pins and needles down his leg.
Mr Griffin called his supervisor, Neil Sayers, to report the pain and was told to continue with the delivery. He returned the next day in pain.
Justice David North found Mr Griffin's employer "breached the duty ofcare causing personal injury loss and damage".
Lawyers for the company had argued Mr Griffin was also partially responsible, as he had made some entries in his diary about pain but had not provided the complaint to them in a report or checklist.
They submitted both Mr Griffin and the mechanic who completed the repairs and also recommended replacing the seat altogether had failed to show any particular way in which the seat was faulty.
Justice North dismissed a a third-party claim against the mechanic, who the company's lawyers claimed should be liable.
Three other truck drivers gave evidence of their experience with the vehicle, which already had 559,000 kilometres on the odometer when Mr Griffin first drove it.
All three described the seat as uncomfortable. One described it as "dodgy" while another referred to it as "buggered". Two of them raised complaints.
"In light of the persisting complaints, even after the repairs, the necessity of replacing the entire seat with a new and heavier seat as recommended should have commended itself to Mr Sayers," Justice North wrote.
As a result of his injuries, Mr Griffin continues to suffer pain "steadily" and takes painkillers to manage it, having also undergone physiotherapy which only offered temporary relief.
The court heard he often had trouble participating in day-to-day activities, including playing with his young son. He worked part-time as a personal care attendant up to 30 hours each week but could often only manage about 26.
Justice North found liability extended to Mr Griffin's employer and awarded him $554,352 for damages, past and future lost earnings, a refund to WorkCover Queensland and ongoing expenses.
The parties were directed to submit written outlines on costs within 21 days if they could not reach an agreement.
It came with a generic truck photo.
I fitted lambswool seat covers to the rock hard seats in our Army Pilatus Porter aircraft. It made a huge difference.
Unfortunately the Aviation Medical Officer had read an article somewhere about crash-worthy seats and made me take them out (later put them back when he had gone away). As Mammoth says a solid seat uses the truck suspension or aircraft fuselage in a heavy landing to gradually decelerate on the downward path. With thick seat covers or a bottoming sprung seat, the base has stopped or even starting its upward return while your backside is still travelling south compressing the weak seat springs/gas struts/oil shocks or thick wool cover.
Instead of a sprung or even solid seat progressive bottoming (even in a rough vehicle) your descending backside hits a solid base or even returning base just like falling on your backside on concrete. Spinal injuries are very likely.
The following user(s) said Thank You: cobbadog, Roderick Smith
The seats in Lorry gave you a pain in the rear end from when he first came to live with us. I tried all sorts of things, even stooped as low as to lower the tyre pressure, made no difference. I bought a Hawke air cushion to use in the car so I tried this but still no big improvement then at a rego inspection it was pointed out it was time to replace the front leaf springs. The originals were almost flat, and there is another temr for this effect. SO a new set of front springs were bought and fitted, no more rough riding at all. Lorry is comfortable again to ride in. Having said that I still wish to do an upgrade in the seating arrangements. I would like to buy a pair of second hand bucket seats from a later model Hino and bolt them in place. This will give us nice cloth upholstered seats and not vinyl. Bucket seats instead of a small bench but with the buckets I will be able to tilt the back of the passengers seat forward to gain access there and will also be left with a nice big flat area between the seats for a tray or just the flat floor with carpet on it.
Cheers Cobba & Cobbarette
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