London Underground is to pay damages to a train driver from Dagenham who was injured when his driver’s seat collapsed. The train drivers’ union ASLEF secured the compensation for its member via their free legal help scheme with personal injury specialists Thompsons Solicitors.

The man is currently employed by London Underground as a train operator and has worked there since 1984, initially as a guard, before becoming a driver in 1988. His accident took place in July 2003 when he was driving a train from Barons Court towards Earls Court. Within the driver’s compartment, the cabs all contain a seat. Historically the drivers’ seats had been secured to the back wall of the cab. However, a number of years ago the seats were repositioned (as this one was) onto the top of a metal pole, protruding from the floor of the cab. The arm rests were attached to the back rests, so that they moved in unison. Attached to the pole on the right hand side of the seat was a lever which enabled the back and arm rests to move backwards and forwards.

Injured at Work as seat collapsed

The man explains: “My accident happened as I was sitting, leaning slightly forwards, in order for my right hand to operate the lever to operate the train. As I did so, I leant on the arm rest on the driver’s seat on my left hand side and suddenly the back of the seat collapsed forward. My body twisted and I injured my lower back and between my shoulders and my neck. I was out of work for over 8 weeks as a result of my injuries.”

“Not only have at least two of my colleagues had problems with the chairs, I would say that the majority of my colleagues have encountered problems with the chairs at some point or other. The drivers’ seats are very old. I have noticed that in a great many of the carriages, the lever controls for the chairs have moved from the right hand side to the left hand side of the chair (as you sit on it), doubtless because the controls and ratchets are heavily worn.”

Representing the client, Zillur Rahman, from Thompsons Solicitors in Chelmsford, said: “Had it not been for the support and financial backing of ASLEF, this member would have been unable to continue with his claim and secure the compensation he deserves for the injury caused by London Underground.”