Motivated career woman from Canberra awarded $311,600 in accident compensation

Published 04 Apr 2016

Singh v Cooper was a vehicle accident claim heard by the Supreme Court of the ACT in 2015. The Plaintiff was ultimately awarded $311,600.00 for her injuries.

Facts

The Plaintiff was a 39 year well educated women.  She had obtained a Diploma of Health Science at Auckland university of Technology, which qualified her to be a Nurse and a diploma in travel, Tourism and Business Technology.

The Plaintiff ultimately found employment in the Financial Services Sector. Quickly rising to management positions in the companies she worked for.

 In July 2008 the Plaintiff slipped and fell in her home and caused soft tissue damage to her coccyx (lower back). There were no continuing disabilities.

In November 2012, after the birth of her first child, the Plaintiff was diagnosed with post-natal depression. She had suicide inclinations and was admitted to two different hospitals following these incidents.

By 19 March 2013 the Plaintiff was receiving minor counselling and had returned to work. 

On 25 March 2013 the Plaintiff was returning home from work when she was hit from behind and pushed into the opposite lane before colliding head on with an oncoming car.

The Plaintiff quickly returned to work, but her physical and psychological injuries worsened causing periods of time off work.

The Plaintiff's mental condition worsened in December 2013 creating a second period of work until April 2014. After which point she returned to work in a limited capacity.

Damages

The Judge found that while the impact was not so significant, her back pain was a long-term condition and a high chance of being permanent. $50,000.00 was awarded for the immediate impacts of her injury. Another $50,000.00 was awarded for the continuing impacts the injury had on her mental capacity and quality of life for the Plaintiff and her children.

The major point of contention in this case related to economic loss.

The defendant raised issue with the period of income loss between April 2014 and August 2014. The Defendant claimed that this period of employment was forfeited so that the Plaintiff could help her child transition to childcare. The Defendant successfully augured this point. Disentitling the Plaintiff to an award for wage loss for this period.

In relation to future economic loss the Plaintiff argued that with no prognosis on their injuries that she would be entitled to future economic loss until retirement. The Defendant submitted that working was an important part of the Plaintiff's life and her psychological wellbeing. It was with a high likelihood the Plaintiff would return to work.

The Court ultimately found that it was easier to award a buffer (make a general allowance) for future economic loss. Awarding a buffer of $85,000.00 to compensate the plaintiff for the loss of one-third capacity to work to until age 67.

Superannuation was also awarded past and future economic loss.

The court found that the Plaintiff would have had an ongoing requirement to take medication and require referrals and consultations with specialist treatment providers well into the future. The Court made a significant allowance for the past and future expenses which the plaintiff might incur.

It was accepted that the Plaintiff had had gratuitous care in relation to domestic assistance provided to her by her friends and family. The Court awarded $11,000.00 for the past care requirements of the Plaintiff.

For the future, the court found that the Plaintiff would require 3 hours assistance per week, which would gradually reduce over the next 26 years of the Plaintiff life. This was to compensate the Plaintiff as she was unable to do the housework and now the husband had to. The Court ultimately awarded $50,000.00 for the future care requirement of the Plaintiff.

The final sum awarded to the Plaintiff was $311,600.00.

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