Miner suing for millions over brain damage incident

A miner who received brain damage in a traffic accident after his shift is suing his employers for $2.5 million.

The BMA Coal miner, Harold Kerle, worked as a machine operator at the Norwich Park mine when the incident occurred, according to The Morning Bulletin.

In late 2008 Kerle had just completed a night shift and was driving home, allegedly in a state of fatigue, when his car left the road and collided with a bridge.

He has since suffered head injuries, structural brain damage, and ‘flashes of memory’.

Kerle is now suing BMA and contractor HMP Constructions for $1.25 million, and employment company Axial HR for $1.2 million

The defence has allegedly stated Kerle reportedly did not feel fatigued when he left the site, however the defence solicitor stated, “It is a tendency particular for those that feel fatigued to overestimate their capacity for safe driving.”

“In the circumstances he was likely to have been fatigued.”

The case is set to continue tomorrow, where a neuroscientist will give evidence on fatigue.

This is not the first incidence of a worker suing their employer after they were involved in an apparent fatigue related driving accident following their shifts.

In 2014, boilermarker Leon Scholl sued his former employer Environmental Group Limited for approximately $2 million following a car accident.

Scholl drove for more than 10 hours before falling asleep at the wheel and crashing, leaving him with serious permanent injuries.

It is claimed the employer knew the long distance Scholl was forced to drive in order to get home and failed to take the proper safety precautions including training and warnings about fatigue

Scholl said he had approached management to change his roster to FIFO or four weeks on, one week off, but said his requests were not acted on.

Last year another miner sued both Anglo American and his employer Workpac after crashing his car following a 75 hour work week.

Donald Welch allegedly rested for a few hours following his shift, and then drove home, during which time he crashed his car, causing spinal injuries.

He sued Anglo and Workpace for negligence, loss, and other damages.

Documents alleged Welch was suffering extreme fatigue at the time of the accident, and argued the defendants were negligent in providing adequate accommodation  or warning him of the dangers of driving when tired.

It claims changes to the accommodation agreement made by Anglo in 2011 meant that at the time workers had to check-out of the workers village at 10am, even if they had just finished a seven-day swing or night shift.

The claim alleged the companies knew workers commuted between the camp and their homes.

A study by the Royal Flying Doctor Service in 2012 stated that tired and fatigued miners driving home were causing increased numbers of accidents, while a Central Queensland coroner’s report in 2011 directly linked two fatal driving accidents involving miners to fatigue caused by having to drive home after long shifts.

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