GREECE: workers’ liability involved in two accidents at work

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Two controversial legal decisions make truck drivers liable for the accidents at work of which they have been victims. This creates established legal precedents, denounced by Aris Kazakos, Professor at Thessalonica University, which run completely counter to the current labour legislation.

Decision 729/2015 concerns an accident that occurred in Italy in 2011. The driver of a refrigerated truck lost control of his vehicle on the motorway when a front tyre deflated, and struck the safety barrier. He managed to escape from the truck, on fire, but the truck and its cargo burned completely. According to the court, the driver is 99% liable for these material losses since, although an experienced road transport professional, he was unable to keep his truck on course. A judge disagreeing with this decision pointed out that the employer remunerates work and not risk taking during work in conditions and circumstances of pressure created and influenced exclusively by the employer.

The second case also concerns a truck driver, aged 41, who left the road with his road tanker transporting milk and was killed by falling from the top of a cliff. The family sued the employer for damages, asserting that the victim had worked for long hours in succession without rest, in excess of what is authorized by the regulations. The employer’s lawyers declared that the driver had not put on his seat belt, which could have saved him. The court concluded that the employer’s liability was involved for 60%. But the Court of Appeal invalidated this decision, on the grounds that the driver had worked only 3.5 hours more than the legal obligation on the day of the accident and had taken four days leave before that. It referred the case for a further legal decision and the relations of the deceased lost all legal grounds for obtaining compensatory damages.

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