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Whiplash Victim – Motor Vehicle Accident – Favourable Damages Outcome – District Court Judgment

On 30 October 2020, District Court Judge Kent QC from the Southport District Court delivered judgment in favour of Mr Hariharan in the sum of $269,840.64 with respect to injuries Mr Hariharan sustained in a motor vehicle accident on 15 February 2017.

The Defendant Compulsory Third Party Insurer (CTP Insurer) was Allianz.

Prior to the trial, liability or negligence was admitted by Allianz so the only issue in dispute was the quantum [or full value] of the claim.

Mr Hariharan suffered an injury to his neck due to the motor vehicle accident and claimed that his neck injury was ongoing and caused issues for him in terms of ongoing pain and regarding functional work capacity as a folder machine operator.

As is often the case in personal injury claims, much of the focus of the trial was in relation to the assessment of damages regarding the claims for past and future economic loss.

Importantly for injured plaintiff, Judge Kent was impressed by Mr Hariharan’s evidence and found him to be an honest and reliable witness, not prone to exaggeration and prepared to make reasonable concessions.

There was a dispute between the orthopaedic expert witnesses called by both parties. In the end, Judge Kent QC preferred the expert evidence of Dr Cook who assessed Mr Hariharan as suffering from a 5% whole person impairment due to the neck injury.  There was some evidence of pre-existing spinal degeneration but with an absence of any symptoms prior to the motor vehicle accident.

Allianz retained Dr Dickinson, Orthopaedic Surgeon whose evidence was rejected by the court. Despite Mr Hariharan’s pre-existing degeneration in the neck region of his spine being non-symptomatic prior to the motor vehicle accident, Dr Dickinson attributed all of Mr Hariharan’s neck problems to the pre-existing degeneration and assessed no impairment of whole person arising from the motor vehicle accident. Judge Kent preferred the evidence of Dr Cook because, according Judge Kent, Dr Cook’s evidence had more logical force and was consistent with the objective facts of the case.

With respect to the claims for past and future economic loss, Judge Kent assessed past economic loss in the sum of $82,450 and future economic loss at $152,373.

When assessing damages for economic loss, Judge Kent took into account Mr Hariharan’s return to India to live and work and also his plans to divide his time between the two countries and his plan to return to Australia to resume work as Mr Hariharan is Indian born but is also an Australian citizen. Judge Kent also took into account impact of the Covid pandemic on Mr Hariharan’s ability to earn income over the next 12 months and found there was likely to be a continuing weekly loss of income in the order of $300 over the next 16 years.

The writer observes that this judgment is the most helpful or favourable for a whiplash victim from a motor vehicle accident for quite some time.

The writer acknowledges that Mr Hariharan was represented by Macrossan & Amiet Lawyers and Mr P Cullinane QC.

The full decision can be found here:

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