Which case won?

casea
The case for the truck driver
  • The accident would not have happened had the power line been six metres high, in accordance with the electricity company’s own design and guidelines.
  • The electricity company owed a duty to take reasonable care in their design and construction of the power line to avoid injury to people during the expected life of the power line.
  • The farm owner had a duty of care not to expose people entering his property to an unreasonable risk of injury.
  • The farmer ought to have controlled my selection of location for unloading the sheep so that it took place away from the area under the power line.
caseb
The case for the electricity company and the farm owner
  • We owed no duty to the truck driver because he was not acting in accordance with the dictates of common sense and was not exercising reasonable care for his own safety.
  • As an electricity company, we had no control over what would happen at the property, and in particular, how sheep would be unloaded. All we did was install the power line.
  • As the farm owner, I owed a duty to the truck driver, but I had no duty to supervise the work of an independent contractor such as the truck driver. Nor did I have a duty to warn the truck driver of an obvious risk.
  • The truck driver was aware of the presence of the power line.

So, which case won?

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How people voted
a71%
b29%

Expert commentary on the court's decision

“While judgment was made in favour of the truck driver, the court found that he failed to take reasonable care for his own safety and declared a reduction of 40% due to his contributory negligence.”
Court finds multiple factors responsible for risk of harm

The case Courts v Essential Energy (aka Country Energy) [2014] NSWSC 1483 was decided in favour of the truck driver, Mr Courts.

The court found that the risk of harm arose from three factors. The first was the insufficient ground clearance of the power line. The second was the parking of the B-double under the power line. The third was the fact that the truck driver did not avoid the line when retrieving the sheep.

Court finds electricity company and farm owner liable for truck driver’s injuries

The first risk was created by the electricity company, Country Energy. The second risk was created by the conduct of the truck driver and the farm owner, through his employee. The third risk was created by the truck driver’s momentary inadvertence and the conduct of the sheep.

While judgment was made in favour of the truck driver, the court found that he failed to take reasonable care for his own safety. The court therefore declared that a reduction of 40% of the judgment sum of $1,094,237 be made, due to the truck driver’s contributory negligence.

This meant that the truck driver was entitled to $656,542, of which two thirds was to be paid by the electricity company and one third by the owner of the farm.

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