TSTT employee wins lawsuit against company after accident

A TSTT em­ploy­ee, who was se­ri­ous­ly in­jured in a car ac­ci­dent due to faulty brakes on the com­pa­ny's ve­hi­cle, has scored a mi­nor le­gal vic­to­ry in his lengthy le­gal bat­tle for com­pen­sa­tion.

De­liv­er­ing an oral rul­ing at the Hall of Jus­tice in Port-of-Spain, ear­li­er this week, Ap­pel­late judge Prakash Moo­sai dis­missed an ap­pli­ca­tion from the State-con­trolled com­pa­ny to tem­porar­i­ly set aside the as­sess­ment of com­pen­sa­tion due to Ja­son Bal­bosa.

The de­ci­sion means that High Court Mas­ter Sher­lanne Pierre may be­gin the as­sess­ment at a hear­ing sched­uled for March 28.

While Pierre com­pletes the process, TSTT may still ap­peal the sub­stan­tive de­ci­sion of High Court Judge Frank Seep­er­sad, who up­held Bal­bosa's case in Sep­tem­ber, last year.

Ac­cord­ing to the law­suit, the ac­ci­dent oc­curred on Au­gust 14, 2013, while Bal­bosa, a for­mer se­nior line and in­stru­ment tech­ni­cian, was dri­ving along the Uri­ah But­ler High­way near Ca­roni. He crashed in­to the me­di­an as he was un­able to stop while switch­ing lanes due road­works.

In de­fence of the case, the com­pa­ny point­ed to the fact that Bal­bosa was un­able to re­call de­tails of the ac­ci­dent when in­ter­viewed by doc­tors at the Er­ic Williams Med­ical Sci­ences Com­plex in Mt Hope af­ter­wards.

Re­ject­ing the ar­gu­ment, Seep­er­sad said: "Giv­en the fact that Bal­bosa was ex­am­ined short­ly af­ter the ac­ci­dent, it is pos­si­ble that the shock and trau­ma of the ac­ci­dent could have af­fect­ed his re­call and such in­fer­ence is equal in weight to the in­fer­ence, that if he

gen­uine­ly could not re­call the ac­ci­dent and had no rec­ol­lec­tion of same."

Seep­er­sad al­so re­ject­ed the ev­i­dence of the own­er of the com­pa­ny which ser­viced the ve­hi­cle for TSTT, as his ser­vice records stat­ed that the brakes were "work­ing good" but there was a check by the fault de­tect­ed" box on the form.

Seep­er­sad was al­so crit­i­cal of TSTT as he not­ed that when Bal­bosa com­plained of the is­sue to his su­per­vi­sor, hours be­fore the even­tu­al ac­ci­dent, he was told to com­plete his task and then re­turn the ve­hi­cle to the com­pa­ny's ser­vice cen­tre.

As he not­ed that TSTT had no sys­tem to in­de­pen­dent­ly as­sess main­te­nance work per­formed by third-par­ty con­trac­tors, Seep­er­sad called for em­ploy­ers to me­thod­i­cal­ly ad­dress is­sues of safe­ty in the work­place.

In his claim for over $ 1 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion, Bal­bosa is claim­ing that he was placed on in­jury leave since the in­ci­dent and on­ly re­ceives his ba­sic salary from the com­pa­ny. He said as a re­sult of the ac­ci­dent, he has been un­able to en­gage in his part-time job as a fish­er­man, which he used to sup­ple­ment his in­come.

Bal­bosa is be­ing rep­re­sent­ed by Mar­tin George.

Reporter: Derek Achong

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