AN ADELONG man is set to receive a compensation payout of about $1.5 million for injuries suffered when the bulldozer he was driving hit an obscured metal post while spreading ballast at Harden six years ago.
Rodney James Carr, 49, sued his employer, Wagga Mini Mix and Pre-Cast Concrete Pty Ltd, and another company, O’Donnell Griffin.
He claimed they were to blame for the accident in which he was thrown around the bulldozer cabin resulting in injury to his back, shoulders and neck.
A judgment in favour of Mr Carr was handed down in the Supreme Court of NSW last Thursday.
Associate Justice Joanne Harrison ordered the parties to come back with updated compensation figures, but the preliminary estimate is nearly $1.9 million, less $328,000 in worker’s compensation payments already paid to Mr Carr by Wagga Mini Mix.
O’Donnell Griffin had a contract to dig trenches and lay fibre optic cable along the Sydney-Melbourne rail corridor.
It sub-contracted workers and equipment from Wagga Mini Mix for a section between Wallendbeen and Galong.
On Sunday, February 25, 2007 , Mr Carr was working alone while sheeting (moving) ballast on the western side of the Harden bridge when he reversed his bulldozer into a metal pole formed by a doubled up piece of railway track.
It had been cut off about 30 centimetres above the ground, but left embedded and covered over by the ballast.
“... as he (Mr Carr) reversed, the bulldozer came to an immediate halt and spun to the right, causing him to be thrown off the seat, backwards and downwards in the cabin,” Justice Harrison said.
“He was immediately aware of the pain in his back, shoulders and knee.
“He was shocked and dazed.
“His nose was bleeding.”
The court heard there was no “spotter” at the work site that day to look out for potential hazards, such as hidden metal poles.
Justice Harrison found that as a result of the accident, Mr Carr experiences constant pain, can no longer take part in the outdoor activities he once enjoyed, has been unable to work since the accident and is unlikely to gain paid employment in the future.
Justice Harrison apportioned liability for the accident 75 per cent to O’Donnell Griffin and 25 per cent Wagga Mini Mix.
“In my view, it was reasonably foreseeable that it was likely that there were posts or other dangerous objects not visible but present under the piles of ballast ... the risk to the plaintiff suffering injuries was foreseeable and not insignificant,” Justice Harrison said.
She said Wagga Mini Mix had an over-riding and non-delegable duty to Mr Carr which required it to provide a safe system of work to address any foreseeable risk of injury.
Justice Harrison has ordered updated compensation figures from the parties for many of the claims, but at a minimum has awarded Mr Carr $278,200 for non-economic loss and $505,000 for past economic loss.
She also accepted as reasonable Mr Carr’s claim of $713,714 for future economic loss and $213,000 for future care.
Money has also been awarded for past and future superannuation, medication and medical treatment costs.