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BHP to pay damages over Linfox driver injury

Truck driver to receive massive compensation after mine road incident

 

A truck driver injured more than five years ago at a BHP mine site in WA’s Pilbara region was awarded more than $580,000 in damages by the NSW Supreme Court.

Ronald Addison, now 72, suffered a fracture and developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after driving over an unsafe BHP road at Yandi Central Mine.

The road train driver, employed by Linfox since 2013, was transporting diesel at the time of the single-vehicle accident on January 27, 2016 on an entrance road leading into the mine.

About 50 metres from the road’s floodway, Addison noticed two deep trenches.

By that stage, he had no option but to hold his line and continue to drive through the floodway, as, “if he tried to stop, the trailers would crush the prime mover, no doubt leading to a catastrophic accident”.

He was jolted around his cabin over the two trenches while maintaining a speed he was required to travel at to get up the upcoming hill.

It was noted he suffered an axial compression fracture, which he recovered from, but remained off work for four years because of his psychological state.

Addison said that even though he returned to work 14 hours a day in September 2020, with an intention of driving until the age of 75, he continues to suffer from psychological symptoms.

Shortly before the hearing, BHP admitted breach of duty.

It was also fined for the incident by the Perth’s Magistrate Court in 2019 over the lack of warnings about the flood-damaged road.


How the WA DMIRS reported the BHP penalty, here


However, BHP disputed that the injuries and disabilities were caused by the accident, alleging contributory negligence “limited to a failure to wear a seatbelt at the time of the accident”, which was dismissed.

The company also disputed Addison’s level of disability, citing pre-existing back conditions throughout the course of his career.

While the court accepted this, “those problems did not prevent him from working and they were no different from the sort of problems experienced bytruck drivers generally”, evoking the ‘eggshell skull principle’ that a defendant is liable for the damage caused to an unusually susceptible susceptible or fragile plaintiff, even if the extent of damage would be less in another person

The final payout of $581,235 included general damages of $120,000, past economic loss of $327,630, past superannuation of $36,039, Fox v Wood component of $57,000, past out-of-pocket expenses of $35,566, and future out-of-pocket expenses of $5,000.

It was noted Addison received Workers Compensation payments from or on behalf of Linfox of $300,000 with an agreement he would only be required to repay the sum of $250,000 to Linfox.

 

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