Damages for man after HGV catches fire

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Damages for man after HGV catches fire

15th June 2011

An HGV driver who was badly burnt after the heated seat in his truck burst into flames has received £90,000 in compensation in an out of court settlement.

Joanna Bailey, a serious injuries expert at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said the London based long distance lorry driver in his forties was delivering goods from his company's depot to a shopping centre in the West Country.

"My client was driving his truck and trailer at nearly 60mph between junctions 16 and 18 of the M4 when all of a sudden his heated seat simply burst into flames," said Joanna, a partner with the firm. "Within seconds the inside of his truck was engulfed in fire and smoke. This was an absolutely terrifying ordeal that my client was incredibly lucky to have survived."

Earlier that morning the man had driven his truck to the depot to collect a trailer of goods he was due to deliver. After having trouble hooking his truck up to the trailer he was urged to switch to a spare vehicle that was kept at the depot.

"Unhappy at having to drive a spare truck that wasn't his own, my client then noticed the back light was broken," said Joanna. "A duty officer who fixed the light by replacing a fuse assured him the truck was fine. Yet he was so concerned about the state of the spare vehicle and what might happen if the truck was as unsafe as it appeared that he even tried to swap the job with the other drivers."

After eventually being persuaded to take the spare truck, the man had been driving for two hours when the incident occurred. "When flames suddenly appeared in my client's vehicle, he was travelling at 56mph," said Joanna. "With the truck filling with smoke and his jacket on fire he was somehow able to pull the blazing vehicle onto the hard shoulder, jump out at the passenger side and extinguish the fire on his back by rolling across the ground."

The blaze - which completely destroyed the goods in the trailer - was put out by the fire brigade. The victim suffered first degree burns and was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was also treated for smoke inhalation and shock as well as minor injuries to his knees, hip and lower spine sustained when he jumped from the burning truck.

"My client was left severely shaken and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder," said Joanna. "He suffered recurring flashbacks, fear and nightmares and was unable to return to work. In reward for over ten years of loyal service, his employers ultimately ended up giving him the sack.

"My client's employers subsequently conceded liability after we discovered the seats in the burnt truck had a recognised fault with their heating mechanisms and had not been sent to the manufacturer for urgent checks," said Joanna.

"By failing to ensure the vehicle they asked my client to drive was safe, his employers placed his life at considerable risk," added Joanna. "Through no fault of his own he was put through a shocking ordeal that cost him his job and his livelihood. He has suffered a substantial loss of earnings and enormous financial constraints and stress as a result. After five years he has finally received the justice he deserves and it is hoped this settlement will now help him move on with his life."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of accidents at work.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.