Accident at work fatalities are now seen as corporate manslaughter
The UK government has called out for urgent action to be taken to reduce the number of accidents at work - including fleet drivers involved in work-related road traffic accidents. The new term "corporate manslaughter" has recently been introduced to describe accidents at work.
The government wants to see a 40 per cent reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured in work-related road traffic accidents by 2010. A third of driver fatalities are believed to be fleet drivers.
Corporate manslaughter legislation states that a corporation or limited company can be prosecuted for manslaughter that occurs during work hours. There is considerable public concern surrounding cases of corporate manslaughter, especially involving young inexperienced workers.
Corporate manslaughter is examined in the context of involuntary manslaughter and it is difficult to conceive that a company would be found guilty of voluntary manslaughter of its staff. Corporate liability has been in the headlines since the notorious ferry disaster involving P&O European Ferries (Dover) Ltd (1991) when the bow doors were left open.
Four-stage corporate manslaughter test
The House of Lords created a corporate manslaughter test with the following four critical questions concerning negligent acts:
- Did the defendant owe a duty of care towards the dead victim?
- Has the defendant breached that duty of care?
- Has the breach caused the death of the victim?
- Was the breach of duty so bad that it amounted to gross negligence resulting in a criminal conviction?
Corporate manslaughter forms part of the civil law of tort (wrongs committed by one party against another party), not criminal law (crime of an individual against the state).
Corporate manslaughter and the causal link
It has to be proved that there is a causal link between a negligent act or omission by an individual who is the "controlling mind" of the company and the cause of the accident at work fatality being considered.
Usually a person can only be a "controlling mind" if they are a director or in a higher level management position but if the board has delegated tasks then the delegate can also have the "controlling mind". It's easier to establish a causal link in smaller companies than larger companies where managerial responsibility may be shared.
Personal injury work accident compensation claims
It should not be part of a normal day's work to suffer personal injuries because your employer has failed to give you proper instruction and to enforce health and safety recommendations to ensure you're kept safe and to prevent an accident at work.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) standards state that employers must adhere to health and safety regulations to protect the welfare of their staff and to prevent workplace personal injuries.
If you have been injured in an accident at work, your employer may be liable. We can give you free legal advice about workplace accident compensation in clear English without legal jargon. Our no win no fee policy enables us to pursue your claim, completely risk free, allowing you to focus on getting better, not worrying about money.
Request a call back or dial 0800 197 32 32 today to find out what our panel of expert personal injury solicitors can do for you.