A truck driver has finally received the compensation he fought for all the way to the Queensland Court of Appeal, after a seven year struggle after a defective driver’s seat caused a back injury in 2014.
Travis Schultz & Partners Senior Associate, Hugh Powell took the case to trial in 2020 and said the original judgement confirmed his employer’s negligence but awarded damages which seemed inadequate given the circumstances of Mr Peebles’ case.
“At the age of 32, Dan Peebles’ career came to an abrupt halt when he suffered a significant injury to his back and he is continuing to undergo extensive rehabilitation, including expensive spinal cord simulation,” Mr Powell said.
“After Mr Peebles’ trial in May 2020, the significant nature of his disability and his need for ongoing life-time treatment was enough of a reason for Travis Schultz & Partners to take the fight to the Court of Appeal.
“The Appeal was about ensuring Mr Peebles was adequately compensated for his permanent injury that he suffered as a result of his employer’s negligence.
“This case, where you have a trial and the result is overturned on an appeal, is a good example of how our justice system has checks and balances to ensure that justice is done at the end of the day.”
Travis Schultz & Partners challenged the Trial Judge’s findings, which discounted economic loss awards significantly on the basis that Mr Peebles would have eventually suffered back pain later in life.
Mr Peebles said he is grateful to put the legal proceedings behind him, thanking his family, friends and legal team for their persistence in fighting for justice.
“I’m glad it’s over. The claim and court proceedings have been going on for more than seven years and I’ve had enough,” Mr Peebles said.
“It’s bad enough battling the physical and mental pain of a permanent injury, let alone the added stress and pressure of legal proceedings.”
The Court of Appeal decided to reduce the extent of discounting on awards of damages, which was applied by the primary judge, thereby increasing the award for Mr Peebles.
Dan Peebles said he hopes employers see this and realise that they need to be more accountable for the welfare of their employees.
“The duty of care of employers should be paramount. Many transport companies spruik their high standards of care to employees and yet, my experience is that it’s nonsense,” Mr Peebles said.
“Directors and owners of transport companies need to put their people before profits. The buck stops with the director/owner of a company.
“Proactive and practical safety measures are required, rather than just looking at paperwork. When a staff member brings a safety issue to the attention of a maintenance manager, it needs to be taken seriously.”
If it wasn’t for his injury, Mr Peebles would have nearly 30 years left in the workforce, losing approximately $1,300 net a week.
He was awarded more than $900,000, ensuring he has enough money for treatment, rehabilitation and living expenses while he is unable to work.