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SABIDUSSI V YOUNG & ANOR [2017] QDC 146

OVERVIEW

A person who injured in a motor vehicle accident can make a claim for compensation depending on the circumstances of the accident.

If you’re involved in a car accident, there may be some legal obligations to attend before leaving the scene. Accidents must be reported to the police if anyone is injured or dies. The police have wide powers to get information about car accidents. If you are on fault of the accident, you are responsible for any damages. You should get legal advice when someone makes a claim against you, or if you want to make a claim against someone else for damages to your property and yourself. There are time limits for making a claim for motor vehicle property damage. If you’re involved in a car accident, you may also be charged with a traffic offence.

Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance covers vehicle owners and drivers who are legally liable for personal injury to any other party in the event of a motor vehicle accident. There are three parties to CTP. The first party is the owner/driver of the vehicle ‘at fault’. The second party is the CTP insurer of the vehicle ‘at fault’. The third party is the injured person.

FACTS

On December 2013, the plaintiff was a front seat passenger in a vehicle driven by her friend. The defendant was driving along the plaintiff in the same direction. The plaintiff vehicle was suddenly veered and crossed over into the path of the other vehicle. The driver was taken into Hospital by helicopter and later died as a result of her injuries. The plaintiff was trapped in the vehicle and was rescued by the Queensland Fire and Rescue Services and was taken to hospital. The plaintiff claims damages for the injuries she suffered as a result.

The plaintiff was 36 years of age at the time of the accident. The clinical note of the hospital indicated that the plaintiff complained of right lateral neck pain and right lateral lumbar pain. The hospital notes that the plaintiff suffered a abrasion over the right cheek to the nose and right lateral knee abrasion. The plaintiff commenced seeing psychologists and specialists for her treatment. The defendant then relied on vehicle insurance for the cost occurred as a result of the accident. The court looked at the reports and statements made by the doctors and psychologists in order to award damages.

Section 61 of the Civil Liability Regulation 2014 provides that if general damages are to be awarded, the court must assess an Injury Scale Value (ISV) from the range of ISVs for injuries set out general damages including damages for pain and suffering or loss of amenities of life by referring to section 62 of the Act to calculate the damages. The court may only award damages if it is satisfied that the person has suffered or will suffer loss having regard to the person’s age, work history, actual loss of earnings, any permanent impairment and any other relevant matters. If the court awards damages, the court must state the assumptions on which the award is based and the methodology it used to arrive at the award.

SUMMARY

In order to award damages, the court considers a few things depending on the nature of the incident. There are gratuitous care, special damages, interest on special damages, past economic loss, interest on past economic loss, past loss of superannuation benefits, interest on past superannuation, future economic loss, future loss of superannuation benefits, future expenses.

In this case, the court awarded $185,000,000 for total damages in favour of the plaintiff.

OUR COMMENT

Get legal advice first. You probably need legal advice if:

  • there’s a dispute about liability (who is at fault) or about quantum (the amount of damage)
  • you ‘re about to start negotiating with the insurer or other driver
  • both vehicles are damaged and you think the other driver is partially to blame
  • you’re going to court because you can’t reach an agreement
  • there is a dispute with an insurer over your motor vehicle property damage claim.

Consideration of these issues can be complicated and should be referred to lawyers specialising in these types of claims.