Defendant faced with two plaintiffs in motor vehicle accident case

Date: Sep 28, 2018

Being sued by one plaintiff is a hard task for any defendant to face, let alone having a second to bolster complications.

In this case, the plaintiff pursued damages against the driver of a motor vehicle which hit her whilst she was outside a parked car. Furthermore, her employer also put forward a claim for indemnity for compensation. 

But what did the court decide in this extensive case?

Background of the case

On 22 August 2013, the plaintiff parked her car on the left hand side of the road before heading to an appointment. Once she stepped out of the vehicle and turned around, she was hit in the back by a car. 

She recalled a crowd of people attending to her, including an elderly man who she believed to be the driver of the car. After seeing how shaken up he was, the plaintiff admitted fault for the incident.

The initial pain in her back became increasingly worse, causing her to reduce hours at work. She claimed this was hard to go through as she enjoyed work but she believed she was not performing as well as before the accident. This increased her already-high levels of depression and anxiety. Despite her time off work, the plaintiff was still receiving workers compensation from her employer.

The defendant did not admit liability for his actions on the basis that the plaintiff failed to look when stepping out into the road.

Dissecting the case

The court called upon a liability report constructed by an engineer with expertise in crash reconstruction. He stated that the defendant had more than enough time to prevent the accident after seeing the plaintiff crossing the road, and did not intentionally slow down after doing so. However, it was also noted that the plaintiff should have checked the road before moving.

The plaintiff was subject to multiple cross examinations, and the court relied on numerous medical reports to understand the extent of the plaintiff's injuries.

The decision

Despite her initial admittance, the court ruled that the plaintiff's apology was based on sparing the feelings of the older gentlemen, shock and slight concussion – eliminating any form of liability on her part.

Additionally, the court concluded that the accident could have been prevented had the defendant travelled at a safer separation from the plaintiff and slowed down at the right time. As a result, there was a breach of the duty of care owed by the defendant. After taking the plaintiff's injuries and emotional state into account, the court awarded $225,000 for non-economic loss, as well as a range of other damages. However, they also decided that the plaintiff did not take reasonable steps for her own safety and was negligent herself. All damages were reduced by 15 per cent as a result. 

They believed that the employer took all reasonable steps as a corporate entity to assist the plaintiff in her return to work after the accident and so all compensation would be paid back. 

Have you been involved in a motor vehicle accident that wasn't your fault? Find out if you're eligible for compensation by getting in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners today. 

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.