Plaintiff awarded $0 in bizarre rear-ending case

Date: Jan 31, 2018

A bizarre low-speed vehicle rear-ending case has ended with the plaintiff being awarded $0 in damages.

Although $0 cases are rare, they are possible. In this case, proof of nominal economic damages to the plaintiff meant the District Court saw this as the best way to fairly represent the defendant's admission of liability.

The vehicle collision details

The plaintiff was a passenger in the car struck from behind by the defendant at low speed while waiting at a traffic light. The insurer proved there was no damage to the car and the driver wasn't addressed during Court proceedings as having been harmed in any way.

However, the plaintiff claimed they suffered injuries all over their body, including to their knee, spine, and head. They also initially argued these physical injuries manifested a number of side effects, including constant pain in the afflicted areas, headaches and depression, to name a few.

Furthering the unusual nature of this case, the main issue that emerged during proceedings was not the liability of defendant but rather if the plaintiff had suffered any injuries at all.

What was the plaintiff claiming for?

The plaintiff's claim was for past and future out-of-pocket expenses. These included alleged medical and physiotherapy costs that arose from the collision. Unusually, the plaintiff did not claim for any economic loss, past or present, and instead asked to be considered for subsidised domestic assistance to help with caring for their father and children.

The plaintiff had to prove their injuries were incapacitating and prevented them from attending to their family and created out-of-pocket expenses above a certain threshold in order to win their case. They also had to prove they took measures to mitigate their injury as stipulated in the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999.

Why was $0 the amount awarded?

The plaintiff submitted two reports from separate medical professionals. However, the documents held no evidentiary weight in supporting their case:

  • The report from their visit to an occupational therapist revealed that contributions to the plaintiff's injuries were equally split between this incident and a previous motor vehicle collision, with no reason as to why. The report also indicated that the plaintiff did very little to mitigate their injuries with medical attention, including ignoring repeat referrals to get an X-Ray.
  • The second doctor's description of the plaintiff's injuries was based on a completely inaccurate series of events in which the plaintiff was a passenger of a vehicle that had been totally written-off by the collision.

The plaintiff admitted in the course of proceedings they had in fact done very little to see a doctor or other medical professional about their injuries. As a result, the judge agreed that although the defendant remained liable, the plaintiff's actual expenses were negligible and warranted the rarely-seen $0 damages awarded.

If you have been in a motor vehicle collision and think you may be owed damages, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation Lawyers.

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