A woman who was awarded $616,250 following a car crash has lost her case on appeal after the trial judge was ruled to have made several decision-making errors.
The accident occurred in 2010, with the claimant suffering extensive injuries that resulted in her still requiring a neck brace and a wheelchair six years later.
The woman alleged that she had collided with a Hyundai Lantra in front of her when it braked suddenly due to a utility vehicle suddenly pulling out of a fast food restaurant's car park.
Despite the drivers of the ute and the Lantra disputing her version of events, the trial judge ruled in the plaintiff's favour. The damages were assessed at $725,000, with Justice Leonard Levy subtracting 15 per cent due to contributory negligence.
Justice Levy's ruling relied heavily on the reliability of the witnesses.
The other drivers claimed that the woman had first hit the car in front of her, which pushed the vehicle into the ute. This contradicted the woman's recollection; she said the ute had been hit first and she collided into the Lantra.
According to Justice Levy, the woman's evidence was preferred because she had fewer inconsistencies in her account. He described the Lantra owner as "dismissive and off-hand" during his testimony, while the ute driver "did not have a good recollection of events".
However, the ute driver, who was found liable for the accident, appealed the decision, claiming that the judge had erred in giving more weight to the plaintiff's evidence.
The appellate judges agreed that errors were made in the trial, including the ruling that the Lantra driver had hit the ute first.
The woman admitted she had made a mistake when asserting her vehicle hit the Lantra after it had already collided with the ute. This revelation had been considered a key factor in awarding the plaintiff compensation.
Furthermore, the appellate judges highlighted other inconsistencies in the woman's evidence that lent strength to the testimony provided by the other drivers.
As such, the compensation claim was overturned and the woman may not receive damages for her injuries unless she also pursues a successful appeal.
This case highlights the intricacies of motor vehicle accident compensation claims, as well as the need to gather strong evidence in support of your version of events.
Please contact a member of our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for more information.