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March 21, 2018

Economic loss award for school girl



Ali v. Auguste & Anor [2014] QDC 272

This was a claim involving nervous shock. The Plaintiff was 12 years old at the time of the accident and was walking with her cousin on the footpath when the First Defendant mounted the footpath striking the Plaintiff’s cousin causing her to be propelled forward some distance before finally hitting the ground. As a result of the significant injuries sustained, the Plaintiff’s cousin died shortly after the accident.

Liability was admitted with quantum being the only issue at trial.

The Plaintiff was an Iraq Muslim who had been in Australia for a few years prior to the accident and struggled with English. It was accepted by the Second Defendant on the uncontested opinion of Dr Ewing that the Plaintiff had suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the accident.

As was to be expected the main area of contention related to future economic loss. The Second Defendant contended that no amount of damages should be allowed or at the very best a very modest amount should be assessed pursuant to s.55 of the Civil Liability Act. The Plaintiff, on the other hand, sought $200,000.00 for future economic loss. The Plaintiff was still at school at the time of Trial.

The Plaintiff provided evidence that she would have liked to be a dentist once she had finished her schooling however remarked that she no longer had the aspiration as she realised her marks were not good enough. She described her studies being hampered by her ongoing symptoms including difficulties concentrating or remembering things.

Dr Ewing’s evidence at Trial was that the future prognosis was guarded particularly in light of failed attempts at counselling.

Her Honour Ryrie DCJ accepted that the injury was likely to have a long term impact upon the Plaintiff’s future, evident from the evidence of Dr Ewing who confirmed that the Post Traumatic Stress condition would never fully resolve. Her Honour found there was a very real rather than a remote chance that the Plaintiff would relapse in the future which will or may be productive of financial loss.

It was noted the Plaintiff had a potential 50 years of working life. Her Honour made a global assessment of $110,000.00 assuming the Plaintiff will have many periods off work over the course of her potential working life due to the nature of her injury and the consequent susceptibility to relapse. That period she assumed would likely be in the order of 18 months. Her Honour used the average weekly wage for all employees as a guide making an adjustment for tax applying that figure over 18 months and then adjusting for contingencies at 15%. That amount equated to $59,000.00. In addition to that sum Her Honour also assumed the Plaintiff will have lost over the course of her working life the opportunity to have attained more remunerative employment as a direct consequence of the injury. She therefore assumed a nett loss per week of $60.00 adjusted for contingencies assessed at $50,000.00.

In summary, there was Judgment for the Plaintiff in the sum of $151,641.00 inclusive of public trustee administration, management and investment fees.