02 September, 2020
Forbes recently successfully acted for a retail organisation in defending a personal injury claim in which CCTV of the event played a vital role. Often CCTV is inconclusive as, for example, it does not capture the right angle or is too far away to be definitive. However, in this instance the judge accepted that it was highly persuasive.
The claimant was an employee of the defendant and was engaged in stacking boxes of product onto a pallet when she tripped over the corner of the pallet and fell causing injury. She alleged that the pallet was defective in that a piece of wood had come loose from the edge of the pallet, and that it was this that she tripped over.
The incident was captured on CCTV which defendants had helpfully retained. They argued that it showed that there was no defect to the pallet and that the claimant had simply tripped on the pallet she was working on.
The case was brought on the basis that the pallet was defective and the issue to be tried was whether the claimant tripped over the edge of the pallet or a piece of wood and whether the situation posed a foreseeable risk of injury.
Our evidence was that the pallet was not defective, that there were safety measures in place and that the claimant's training was up to date. It was also agreed in evidence by the claimant that checking the pallet for defects was her responsibility.
The Judge found on the evidence that the pallet was not defective and that no piece of wood was present based on the CCTV footage and that it was possible that any piece of wood which may have been present was caused by the claimant tripping over the edge of the pallet. The Judge was satisfied that the pallet was not defective and that even if there was a piece of wood it would not explain the accident seen on the footage or represent a foreseeable risk of injury. Further the Judge found that the Defendant's safety regime and system of work was reasonable and therefore dismissed the claim.
The availability of CCTV footage in this case was very persuasive as the Judge was able to see both the state of the pallet pre accident and the mechanism of the claimant's fall.
This case highlights the importance of checking for and retaining CCTV when available.