Car Accident (Rear End Collision) – Neck Injury, Back Injury & Psychological (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
The injured claimant in this case was struck from behind at speed by a motorcycle while he was stationary in his car. As a result he sustained neck, upper back and psychological injuries. At trial he was 41 years of age and was working as a slicer in an abattoir. He had plans of working as a commercial fisherman and had done such work prior to the accident. He struggled to return to work as a commercial fisherman due to his back and neck injuries. His orthopaedic surgeon was of the opinion that he had a 5% neck injury and a 5% back injury (whole person). His psychiatrist was of the view that he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and aggravation of a pre-existing depressive condition. The orthopaedic surgeon who examined him on behalf of the insurance company believed that he had suffered a 0% impairment and the soft tissue injuries sustained in the motor vehicle accident should not impact on his ability to work as a commercial fisherman or as a slicer in the abattoir.
The Court favoured the expert medical evidence presented on behalf of the injured claimant over the medical evidence called on behalf of QBE. The Court accepted that the claimant was unlikely to be able to continue working as a slicer at the abattoir beyond the next few years and was probably working beyond his capabilities now. It was also accepted that he would not be able to handle work as a commercial fisherman given the heavy physical nature required for that type of work.
Future Economic Loss ($265,000.00)
The Court took a practical approach to assessing this part of his loss. It was assumed that he would lose 1/3 of his pre-accident earning capacity over the next 10 years and 2/3 of his pre-accident earning capacity out of the following 15 years. The maths was calculated in relation to an assumed ongoing net income of $800.00 per week if not for the accident. The injured claimant was awarded $265,000.00 for future economic loss.
Due to his injuries, the claimant could not handle domestic duties around the house that he used to complete prior to the accident. He struggled with heavy domestic cleaning tasks, laundry, heavy lifting tasks associated with grocery shopping etc. His spouse was required to do laundry, lawn mowing, cleaning, walking their dogs etc.
The court found that while the plaintiff is working at the abattoir as a slicer, he would need about 6 hours of assistance around the house. Past care was awarded at $57.50p/h.
The Court also awarded future care for assistance that will be required around the house including tasks that he is now unable to complete due to his injuries.
In total, an amount of $142,000.00 was allowed for future care and an amount of $14,720.00 for past care.
The damages awarded were assessed as the following:
|General Damages (Pain and suffering)
|Past Economic Loss
|Past Loss of Superannuation
|Future Economic Loss
|Future Loss of Superannuation
|Special Damages (Medical expenses etc)
|Interest on Special Damages
|Interest on Past Economic Loss
|$593,441.00 + costs
Due to the damages the injured claimant received from the Court exceeding an offer that he had made previously to the insurer, the insurer was ordered to pay all of his legal costs. Normally the insurer is required to pay “standard costs” which represents a percentage of total work performed by the injured person’s lawyers. However, in this case, the court ordered that the insurer pay all of the injured claimant’s legal costs.