Zurich Insurance liable for bin lorry worker’s damages claim

Dispute arose over whether claim was due against insurer of lorry or not

Zurich was found to be liable for claim. Photograph: iStock

Zurich was found to be liable for claim. Photograph: iStock

 

Zurich Insurance is liable under a motor policy for a claim by a bin lorry worker for any damages awarded over an accident while he was loading a bin, the High Court has ruled.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds said Zurich, rather than RSA Insurance Ireland must provide an indemnity for the claim arising after Joseph Moore, an employee of Urban and Rural Recycling of Wexford, suffered life changing injuries on December 19th, 2013.

He had loaded a wheelie bin full of bottles on the truck’s lifting equipment in Duncormick, Co Wexford, and while he was operating and controlling the lift, the bin became detached and fell near its emptying position, striking Mr Moore on the head.

He brought a claim against his employer alleging among other things, negligence and failing to provide a safe system of work.

A dispute arose over whether RSA, which provided employers’ liability insurance for accidents at work, or Zurich, as insurers of the bin lorry, were liable should he succeed in his claim.

The issue was referred to the High Court for determination.

Zurich argued Mr Moore was the “user” of the vehicle, and therefore road traffic legislation and European Directives, do not require the “user” to be insured for injury to himself caused by the “negligent use of the vehicle” by him.

RSA and Urban Recycling argued Zurich was liable.

Vehicle user

Ms Justice Reynolds, in a judgment published on Wednesday, was satisfied that a “user” of a vehicle under the Road Traffic Acts (requiring compulsory insurance for vehicles), when properly construed, covers the use of the vehicle that led to the injury.

She was satisfied Mr Moore, although also the driver of the lorry, was not in charge of the vehicle for the purpose of driving.

His personal injury claim was, on balance, consistent with “negligent use” within the meaning of the Road Traffic Act 1961 whether it was by virtue of a defect in the vehicle or other negligence, so as to be subject to the compulsory insurance requirement, she said.

Therefore the liability of Urban & Rural to Mr Moore was required to be covered by an approved policy of insurance such that the entire liability (if any) rests with Zurich. He was entitled to an indemnity in his personal injury claim under the Zurich policy, she said.