01 December, 2020
Forbes acted for a Midlands steel company and at trial successfully defended an alleged slipping claim.
The Claimant was employed by the Defendant as a driver. He alleged that on the date of the accident in 2016 he was securing a load of stock and, as a result of oil getting on to his vehicle and his boots, he slipped and fell from the vehicle, twisting his foot and leg in the ladder, and falling head first.
No one witnessed any fall, but the Claimant left site immediately without reporting any incident and he was witnessed driving off at great speed.
The Claimant did not provide the Defendant with any account of the incident until almost a week later, and the account he gave simply did not add up.
Forbes were able to highlight numerous inconsistencies in the Claimant's pleaded case and in the witness evidence. The Particulars of Claim stated that the incident occurred when he was climbing the ladder, but in his witness statement he was descending the ladder. He told the Defendant that his foot slipped forwards in a gap in the ladder between the bottom step, but the Defendants did not accept that this was possible, as there was no space for the foot to go through. Members of the Defendant's management had attempted to recreate the accident circumstance but were unable to do so.
The Claimant made a Part 36 offer to settle the claim for just over £12,000 damages 3 months prior to trial. The Defendants were determined not to make any offers and the matter proceeded to trial, in person, at Manchester County Court.
At the trial the Claimant proved to be an unimpressive witness, and incisive cross examination highlighted further inconsistencies. He was unable to explain the mechanics of the fall or explain how his foot became trapped. He made several key changes to the account he had given previously.
Whilst the trial Judge was prepared to accept that the Claimant may have suffered some accident, she agreed with the Defendants that the Claimant had failed to prove his case. She did not accept that the accident occurred in the manner alleged and the Claimant's claim was therefore dismissed.
The Defendants had serious doubts about the alleged accident from the start. Forbes were able to highlight the inconsistencies in the evidence so as to successfully defend the claim to trial. The case highlights that, where there are sufficient doubts about a claim, then with careful analysis of the evidence and a firm stance, a successful outcome can be achieved.