Court rejects appellant's outlandish claim for damages

Date:Jan 29, 2019

Differences in opinion are often expressed between appellants, defendants and the court, especially where costs are concerned. While these assessments vary, rarely do they differ as significantly as those put forward in a recent motor vehicle accident case.

What did the plaintiff request in damages?

On 2 March 2011, the appellant was involved in a motor vehicle accident, and in September of the same year, she was involved in a another motor vehicle accident. Both drivers (respondents) admitted liability.

The appellant alleged that she had sustained injuries to her neck, head, back, both arms, shoulders and knees, as well as psychological injuries and substantial economic and other loss. She claimed damages for negligence against both respondents in separate actions in the District Court which were in excess of $20 million.

However, the primary judge rejected the appellant's evidence that she had been seriously injured and had only suffered minor injuries from which she recovered within two weeks of the motor vehicle accidents occurring. The appellant was therefore awarded $1,250 in each action.

This decision was then appealed on the basis that the primary judge was inconsistent with undisputed facts, and that $100,000 should be considered for each appeal.

What did the court ultimately decide?

When assessing the appellant's evidence, it soon became clear there were inconsistencies and issues. During the course of proceedings, the appellant had claimed the accidents had left her unable to perform basic tasks. However, video footage and assessment of her social media posts showed otherwise. Her financial status was also made aware, and it showed that the appellant had been made bankrupt in previous years.

Doctors came to the conclusion that she was exaggerating her symptoms for the purposes of obtaining compensation.

After reviewing all evidence, it was found that the appellant didn't meet the criteria for non-economic loss as neither medical reviews found she had suffered any permanent impairment. Furthermore, because insurers had already paid $5,852.24 in respect of her past out-of-pocket expenses, the court only added $250 in respect of each accident as a "cushion" in case she needed non-prescription medication for pain relief in the future. The rest of the appeals and applications for leave to appeal were dismissed with costs.

In a motor vehicle accident, determining exactly what costs you may be eligible for can be tricky. That's why it pays to have experts on hand to help. Get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners today to see how we can help you with your claim for compensation.

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