A GMB member has received £5,000 in compensation after brakes on his work van that he had complained about failed and he crashed.

Before the accident Michael Ross, 46, from Carlisle had asked his employers, AMEY, to check the van’s brakes on three occasions but was told each time that there was nothing wrong with them.

In June 2009 his brakes failed and he crashed into the back of another car as he was driving the van back to the depot in Dalston.

Accident resulted in whiplash injury

Mr Ross, who is a local government highway response driver for AMEY, was left with whiplash injuries. 

The employer’s response to the crash was not to check the brakes but to start to discipline him for crashing the van.

It was at this point that Mr Ross decided to break the firm’s procedures and asked the company fitter to look at the brakes himself. It was found that two of the discs had completely seized and that was the cause of the crash.

Mr Ross said: “I knew there was something not quite right with the brakes but every time I brought it up with my supervisor I was told they had been checked and there was nothing wrong with them. After the accident when I knew because I had been there that the brakes had caused the crash I decided to take matters into my own hands. The fitter found the brakes were faulty and fixed them straight away.”

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Mr Ross has recovered from his injuries but still suffers from flashbacks.

He said: “I have nightmares and wonder what would have happened if someone had walked out in front of the van or if I had been going faster. I could have killed someone.”

Following the accident he contacted his union the GMB to seek advice about the disciplinary and they instructed their lawyers Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons was successful in both having the disciplinary dropped and AMEY did not admit liability but settled the claim out of court.

Faulty brakes had been reported on three occasions

Ged Caig from the GMB said: “It sounds like a sick joke that AMEY tried to discipline our member after he was involved in a crash due to dodgy brakes that had been reported faulty on three occasions.

“More care should have been taken to rule out all possible problems with the brakes before this van, which was used to respond to emergency call outs on highway repairs, was put back on the road. Mr Ross was just fortunate his accident was fairly minor and no one else was hurt. It does not bear thinking about what might have happened.”

Lyndsay Milligan from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Mr Ross did everything he could to ensure he was driving a safe vehicle but he was let down by his employers who simply didn’t listen and failed to maintain this van correctly.

“This vehicle could have killed someone had the brakes failed at speed. AMEY can learn simple lessons from this accident and put policies in place to avoid this happening again.”