Court Cases Scenarios
The following cases are to illustrate the possible scenarios:Case 1: Long Hours Culture
Case 2: Correct Company Policies and Procedures
Case 3: Business Ban
Case 4: Failure to introduce Risk Management Policies
Case 5: Safety Breaches
Businesses that have employees who drive for work for long hours are being warned after a firm was found liable for a road accident where one of its workers was left paralysed.
The driver broke his back when he momentarily fell asleep at the wheel.
His employers have been found liable for the incident after judges at the Court of Appeal ruled the company had a long hour’s culture. At the time of the accident the driver had worked a 19-hour day and driven hundreds of miles; one judge said “he was in that predicament because his employers had put him there.”
Verdict: The ruling means he could sue his employers and could be in line to receive over £1m damages. In the mean time the court awarded interim £400,000 payment. The final award will be reduced by 33% as he was not wearing a seatbelt and because he knew he was at risk of falling asleep.
A lorry driver who was using a hands-free phone was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving. The driver had been talking for 23 minutes using the Bluetooth connection in his cab.
The crown court heard that he concentrated on the conversation to the point of ‘being oblivious to all around him’ and failed to spot a line of stationary traffic on the straight dual carriageway ahead.
The drivers Scania HGV ran into the back of a Transit van without braking – killing its passengers.
Verdict: The driver was sentenced to four and a half years in prison plus a five years driving ban but the employers were cleared of all blame as they correctly had all the procedures and polices in line with legislation. Written instructions were given to all their employees regarding the safe use of mobile phones while driving.
Two former directors of an LGV driver agency have been banned from running a business for ten and five years respectively, following a double fatal crash. One of their drivers crashed killing himself and another driver. The investigation showed that he had breached tachograph regulations by driving excessive hours. One of the former directors had allegedly ignored drivers’ comments that they were tired at work and sometimes fell asleep at the wheel.
Verdict: One director was sentenced to two years in jail and the other fined £1,000 for a range of criminal offences relating to the crash.
A pedestrian was killed on a pelican crossing after being struck by an employee driving in his own vehicle after momentarily falling asleep at the wheel.
Although driving on company business the employee failed to take out the necessary business insurance cover and the employer had no procedures in place to check this.
Verdict: The employee was sentences to 3 years in prison and banned from driving for 10 years. The verdict on the directors and management involved is still awaited.
Two bus company chiefs who hired Polish drivers who didn’t speak English or know how to handle a double-decker have been jailed after a workman was knocked down and killed.
The workman was at the top of a ‘cherry picker’ crane when it was hit by a bus with a Polish driver at the wheel. The workman was knocked out of the cherry picker’s ‘basket’ and suffered fatal injuries. It was later revealed that the Polish driver of the vehicle had been working for 19 consecutive days – six more than the legal limit.
An investigation into the bus firm found a catalogue of safety breaches by the two bosses who had employed over 100 Polish drivers. Some of the bus drivers worked up to 31 consecutive days without proper breaks and one Polish employee ripped the roof off a double-decker because he was lost and didn’t understand warning road signs. The company was ordered to take its fleet off the road over safety fears. As a result the company went bust.
Verdict: The managing director of the bus company was banned from becoming a company director for 10 years and the transport manager received the same ban for five years for providing fake spreadsheets and deleting databases in a bid to conceal their tracks. Both were sent to prison for 15 months after they admitted trying to cover up evidence of safety breaches.