The latest industry insights into compensation law.

VBR Lawyers Secure Favourable Damages Outcome in the District Court for a Whiplash Victim of a Motor Vehicle Accident

On Friday 22 January 2021, His Honour Judge Long SC delivered judgment in favour of our client, Mr Seiffert in the sum of $456,640.30 for injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle accident on 7 October 2016.

The accident involved the vehicle he was driving waiting at a T-intersection and being hit in the rear with enough force to shunt it into the intersecting road.

Mr Seiffert was represented by Greg Black, Director of vbr Lawyers with Mr Michael Grant Taylor QC.  The Defendant statutory insurer was the Victorian Transport Accident Commission (TAC).

Mr Seiffert suffered an injury to his neck and left shoulder girdle as a result of the accident and claimed that these injuries caused him ongoing pain and a loss of functional capacity.  He had a long history of work in the construction industry, particularly in labouring and crane operation and struggled with such duties following the accident.  He eventually decided to leave his job with Multiplex and forgo the opportunity to work on a large project at Queen’s Wharf, Brisbane, as such work would aggravate the injuries sustained in his motor vehicle accident.  He ultimately took on a position as a union representative, which was much lighter compared to the physically intensive, but higher paying construction jobs that he had to forgo.

The parties both retained orthopaedic surgeons to supply evidence, with Mr Seiffert retaining Dr Wallace, who assessed him as having a 7% whole person impairment, and the TAC retaining Dr Fraser, who concluded that there was no quantifiable impairment of bodily function.

Judge Long SC was impressed by Mr Seiffert’s evidence and found him to be a frank witness without any indication of tendency to embellish or overstate the situation.  Judge Long SC also preferred the evidence of Dr Wallace over the expert evidence of Dr Fraser.

When comparing the competing medical evidence supplied by the orthopaedic expert witnesses, Judge Long SC identified several inconsistencies with Dr Fraser’s evidence.

Dr Fraser’s evidence emphasised Mr Seiffert’s continued work in the construction industry post-accident despite his claimed injuries, a lack of attendance on his General Practitioner and the lack of any reason or event that would prompt a sudden increase in symptomology.  However, Judge Long SC concluded that Mr Seiffert had provided an acceptable explanation as to his non-attendance upon a GP and as to how he struggled to continue with his heavy work whilst looking for another opportunity.  Furthermore, there was no suggestion by Mr Seiffert of any sudden symptomatology as was claimed by Dr Fraser.

Past and future economic loss was assessed by Judge Long SC in the sum of $77,348.00 and $309,300.00, respectively.

Judge Long SC took into account the difference between Mr Seiffert’s earnings while working for Multiplex and as a union representative.  When considering the difference in the calculations provided in the submissions of the parties, Judge Long SC favoured Mr Seiffert’s approach as presented by vbr Lawyers and Mr Grant-Taylor QC, noting that it was set out with sufficient clarity in reference to the evidence, to enable acceptance of it as an appropriate measure of his loss.  It was found that there was a likely to be a continuing weekly loss of $442.68 over the next 30 years.

The writer suggests that the main takeaways from this decision are:-

  • Whiplash claims can result in substantial awards of damages;
  • Any perception that all whiplash claims are all minor or modest or even trivial is wrong;
  • Chronic whiplash injuries can cause major injuries or disabilities and every whiplash injury claim should be considered through the lens of all possible outcomes from minor to substantial which will always vary from case to case; and
  • All CTP insurers should work on the assumption that any and all whiplash claims could turn out to be a substantial award of damages if the factual and medical evidence is supportive of a substantial outcome.

The full decision can be found here.

More information about motor vehicle accident claims can also be found on our website.

Ray is an Associate who works in the Brisbane office of vbr Lawyers with Greg Black. Ray successfully completed a Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Laws and also his Practical Legal Training at QUT.
Greg is widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading compensation law experts. Greg has a very healthy practice and enjoys providing his clients with superior personal service in every case. Greg is absolutely committed to achieving the best settlement outcomes for his clients while keeping the legal costs down.

Obligation free advice

Claiming compensation can be intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be. vbr Lawyers is the multi award winning firm that gets you real results. Lower costs, higher claims and unrelenting advocacy.

State updated!
Your state has been updated to QLD. Practice areas on compensation law have been updated.