A TRUCK driver who was forced to jump from a moving flat bed truck when the brakes failed on Carrera Island has been awarded just under $.5 million in compensation.
Kirk Reece will receive $300,000 in general damages and $120,808.20 in special damages from Apan Construction. However, 30 per cent will be deducted from each sum since he was found to be partially liable.
The order was made by Justice Ricky Rahim who delivered his judgment on Tuesday via e-mail to the parties involved in the case in keeping with the Judiciary’s protocols for court procedures for the covid19 pandemic.
Reece sought compensation for personal injuries he received while working on Carrera Island on February 8, 2017.
He sued the Apan Construction, which owned the flatbed truck, and Baroid Trinidad Services Ltd, which owned the premises he was working on at Carrera Island.
Reece’s claim against Baroid was dismissed by Rahim who said he failed to prove his case against the company.
According to Reece’s claim, he was driving the truck when the brakes failed while he was going down a hill causing him to take evasive action by jumping out the cab of the truck.
In the process, he broke his thigh bone which required a steel implant being inserted to stabilise the bone.
In his decision, Rahim said it was not in dispute that Reece jumped from the truck. In his evidence, Reece said he was told by a co-worker that the truck was malfunctioning and it was reported to a supervisor that the braking system was fault and the clutch was getting stiff.
Reece was told to carry out his duties to transport a large air compressor downhill. It was while doing so, the braking system failed and the clutch ceased causing him to lose control of it. He jumped out and the truck crashed into a wall.
He admitted to testing the truck for mechanical problems and still drove it. He also testified that it was his decision to “bleed out the brakes” so that it would function for a short time. He then drove the truck downhill in the first gear and attempted to brake, but it seized and so did the clutch.
Rahim found Apan Construction failed to take adequate precautions for Reece’s safey and exposed him to risk of injury while absolving Baroid of that duty.
The judge said there was evidence that Apan Construction knew the truck was faulty but let Reece use it when it should have been withdrawn from service.
However, he said it was equally clear that Reece took it upon himself to interfere with the mechanics of the truck when he should have just referred the problem to his superiors.
“The irony is that in so doing, the claimant was attempting although in misguided manner to get his employers work done. That ambition is admirable but it appeared to be vaulting ambition which over leapt itself,” Rahim said of Reece’s actions.
Rahim also dismissed the submission by Apan’s attorneys that Reece should have stayed in the truck when the brakes failed, brought it under control or crash with it, and his choice to jump led to his own negligence.
“The court does not accept that argument as according with logic in the case where the claimant reasonably apprehended injury to his life,” Rahim said in his decision.
Apan Construction was also ordered to pay interest on the two sums as well as costs.
Reece was represented by attorney Ronald Simon, while Apan Construction was represented by attorney Justin Junkere and Bariod by attorney Raphael Ajodha.
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