Rees R & Sydney Jones has successfully represented an injured Central Queensland miner who was awarded $1.25 million in damages after being injured in a car accident whilst driving home from work at a coal mine near Dysart.
Harold Kerle had finished his fourth consecutive night shift at 6am before commencing a five hour drive home from work. Part way through the journey, he fell asleep at the wheel and suffered injuries which have prevented him from returning to the workforce.
In a David and Goliath battle that went for 2 weeks in the Rockhampton Supreme Court, Mr Kerle sued his employer, a labour hire company based in Gladstone together with his ‘host’ employer, a contractor at the coal mine as well as BMA, the coal mine operator.
Mr Kerle argued that each of the defendants had failed to ensure proper systems were implemented to manage the risk of fatigue to workers after they had completed their roster and were travelling home. In particular, he argued that he had not been provided with a suitable place to rest after finishing his shift nor was there a bus service provided to regional centres such as Rockhampton or Mackay.
In a landmark decision, Justice McMeekin found that each of the defendants was liable to Mr Kerle for failing to ensure that reasonable steps were taken to protect him after he had left the mine site. Our litigation team headed by partner, George Cowan and Senior Associate, Shannon Jennings acted on behalf of Mr Kerle. George, who is an accredited specialist in personal injury law, described the decision as “a big win for the mining communities in this region”.
“Each of the defendants fought tooth and nail to deny Mr Kerle’s claim but in the end, this decision places the spot light on mining companies and contractors to better manage fatigue in their workers to ensure that all road users are safe” George said.