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