The first issue that has to be decided in any injury claim is that of liability – who was actually responsible for the injury? Sometimes this is far from straightforward and, even when the injury is clearly not the fault of the person who was injured, it may be tricky to then identify who was responsible – and in some cases the liability may need to be apportioned between different organisations or persons.
A recent case involved an electrician who sustained an electric shock whilst repairing a high-up light fitting. The shock caused him to suffer a cardiac arrest and he fell, sustaining a severe brain injury. The case for compensation involved two defendants – the firm that installed the light fitting and the firm responsible for its maintenance.
Critical in the determination that the firm that had originally installed the light bore responsibility was the evidence that the light fitting was original and had not been rewired or refitted. Accordingly, the firm that installed the defective light fitting was liable. However, two subsequent inspections by the firm that undertook the maintenance had failed to expose the fault. Accordingly, that firm was also liable.
The court ruled that the liability to pay the electrician's substantial damages should be split 75:25 respectively. No liability (for 'contributory negligence') was attributed to the electrician for failing to use a volt stick to confirm the fitting was not electrically live.