The electricity company, the farmer, the truck driver and the power line – which case won?
Truck driver engaged to transport sheep from Queensland to NSW
A farm owner retained a truck driver to collect sheep in Queensland and drive them to a far north western New South Wales property of about 60,000 acres that he owned. The truck driver was a self-employed independent contractor.
When the truck driver arrived at the property, he got out of his prime mover and spoke to an employee of the farmer about where to unload the sheep. The employee had the farmer’s authority to direct the truck driver where the sheep were to be unloaded.
Truck driver and employee agree on where sheep to be unloaded
The employee and truck driver agreed that it would be easiest to unload the sheep in the yards near the woolshed for inspection by the farm owner that afternoon.
After the truck driver had positioned his B-double vehicle to discharge the sheep into the yards, he climbed up the side of the vehicle to the top deck of the back trailer. One sheep was reluctant to descend and backed itself into the front corner of the front trailer.
Truck driver touches power line while retrieving uncooperative sheep
The truck driver, who was concerned that the sheep might jump over the side of the deck to escape the dogs, went from the back trailer to the front trailer and stepped over the bar that divided the top deck of the front trailer to retrieve the sheep. As he did so, he came into contact with an uninsulated high-voltage power line which hung over the front trailer at a height of 5.65 metres above the ground.
The electricity passed from the truck driver’s head, through his body and out through the toes of his foot. He lost consciousness. In the following months he underwent several skin grafts, debridement and amputation of his left leg.
The truck driver made a claim against the electricity company which had installed the power line and the farm owner for the injuries he had sustained.