Costin v Copson & Anor [2017] QDC 183

 

OVERVIEW

This is a decision of His Honour Reid DCJ of 28 June 2017 in which an award of $40,000 inclusive of superannuation was made to a male aged almost 53, with little evidence of any past lost income or time away from work.

FACTS

Neil Costin was injured while on holidays in Australia.  Mr Costin did not lose time off work or income, despite 1 occasion of not being able to work overtime, and others when he went home early but was still paid.

The medical evidence on impairment was from Dr McPhee who found no impairment but where there was no recovery from pain after 6 months then the pain is likely to be permanent.  Dr McPhee stated no need for ongoing treatment save for analgesics and exercise.

Dr Campbell found some different signs on examination, a 6% impairment and said physiotherapy for acute pain was indicated.

His Honour Reid DCJ favoured Dr Campbell’s opinion as being more consistent with the reporting of the client and lay witnesses about the impacts of the injuries upon him.

Set out in paragraphs 52 and 53 of the judgment is the factual matrix and counsel submissions on the reasons for the risk of impact to his future earning capacity.

SUMMARY

The decision to award $40,000 was made because:

“[57] In my view an award of $40,000 approximately also reflects the various contingencies and compensates the appellant for the ongoing hypothetical chances relating to the effect of his accident-related injuries on his future employment. The assumptions on which that finding are based, as required by s. 55 of the Civil Liability Act are set out herein. I am satisfied that he will suffer loss having regard to these matters. The award can be mathematically justified in a number of ways. It is equivalent, I note, to a weekly sum of $80 per week to age 67. Furthermore it is equivalent to a sum of about 19 $440.00 per peek until retirement, delay for 10 years. Such a scenario could play out in the event of early retirement.

[58] I have not utilised such approaches to calculate the plaintiff’s future economic loss, but consideration of such approaches fortifies my view that the sum I have allowed is appropriate.”

 

OUR COMMENT

This decision seems at odds with a run of cases in 2016 and this year where no award for future economic loss was made despite significant complaints of ongoing pain and medical evidence of impairment.  What appears once again to be crucial in such decision making is the credit of the plaintiff and supportive evidence.  Here the plaintiff was able to call evidence to corroborate his evidence, with the Court finding at paragraph 34:

“That description was also strongly supported by the evidence of his wife, and two work colleagues. I was especially impressed by the evidence of his wife.”

Peter Matus, Special Counsel, Compensation Claims