UK Law Lords Find Employer Liable in Employee Suicide

March 12, 2008 ( - The United Kingdom's highest court has ruled that the widow of a man who committed suicide six years after a workplace accident should be compensated by her husband's former employer.

According to Business Insurance, in a landmark ruling upholding a Court of Appeal decision, the House of Lords said that Luton, England-based IBC Vehicles Ltd. owed a duty of care to Thomas Corr who suffered a serious head injury while employed by the company.

Corr was hit on the head by a metal panel as a result of defective machinery while working for IBC in 1996. He underwent reconstructive surgery, remained disfigured, suffered unsteadiness and severe headaches, and had difficulty sleeping, according to court testimony, Business Insurance said. Corr experienced flashbacks to his accident and suffered from nightmares, began drinking more alcohol, and became bad-tempered. He committed suicide by jumping from a multi-story car park in 2002.

Corr’s widow sued his former employer in 2005 for the pain, suffering, and loss caused by the workplace accident and subsequent suicide. IBC Vehicles admitted liability for the accident, but denied liability for the suicide. The court agreed and only awarded his widow damages for the accident.

The decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal, and IBC appealed to the House of Lords.