The NSW District Court has awarded a man $127,000 after he suffered car accident injuries during a street race that resulted in a crash.
The plaintiff, who was 18 at the time of the incident in 2012, was a back-seat passenger in the vehicle when the driver careened off the road and flipped over several times before hitting a tree.
According to court documents, the driver was under the influence of alcohol and methyl-amphetamines at the time of the accident. Both the plaintiff and the driver had attended the same party earlier in the evening, but weren’t close friends.
The defendant – the driver – admitted negligence, but claimed contributory negligence was also a factor. The District Court therefore had to decide whether the plaintiff’s own actions were partly to blame for his subsequent injuries.
Motor accident compensation claim
As the defendant admitted negligence, Judge Leonard Levy’s primary task was to rule on damages and ascertain whether contributory negligence would reduce the amount of motor accident compensation awarded.
The plaintiff’s brain injury led to a number of ongoing problems, including anxiety, attention deficits, poor memory and unwarranted aggression. He also experienced pain in his lower back, neck and shoulder due to the accident.
Judge Levy believed these injuries would have a notable impact on the man’s ability to seek and remain in employment, particularly in jobs where concentration and communication were important.
He awarded the plaintiff more than $181,000 based on past and future economic losses, out-of-pocket expenses and other medical costs. However, a claim for domestic assistance was rejected, as the judge believed the plaintiff had the ability to perform many day-to-day household tasks himself.
Was there contributory negligence?
The judge ruled contributory negligence was a factor for several reasons. First, the plaintiff was at the same party as the defendant and had witnessed her drinking alcohol.
In fact, before leaving the party, the plaintiff had questioned whether the driver would be sober enough to get behind the wheel. Furthermore, the plaintiff had seen the defendant acting belligerently to another passenger in the car prior to the journey, suggesting her judgement was impaired due to alcohol.
Finally, the defendant was driving erratically before the accident, and the plaintiff had the opportunity to avoid getting back in the car when they stopped at a McDonald’s.
The judge believed the plaintiff’s culpability for his injuries amounted to 30 per cent, which reduced his payout to $127,000.
Would you like to know more about motor accident compensation? Please contact a member of the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.