Plaintiff’s medical background questioned in motor accident case

Date: Nov 29, 2018

Since 2001, rates of injuries sustained in car accidents have been on the rise, and in 2018 are reportedly 27 times higher than fatality rates, according to Budget Direct.

Such injuries were the focus of a recent motor vehicle accident case brought before the NSW District Court – but what did the judge decide when faced with conflicting medical evidence?

Background of the case

The plaintiff stated that on 26 April 2013 she was crossing the road when she was struck by the defendant's reversing vehicle. After the accident, the plaintiff claimed she sustained injuries to her left knee and shoulder, right hip and thumb, and thoracic spine.

She also claimed the defendant failed to keep a proper lookout and therefore breached her duty of care – something that was admitted by the defendant herself.

As a result she submitted a claim for damages under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 (NSW) for her injuries.

However, the defendant didn't admit full responsibility, and claimed the plaintiff contributed to negligence.

Was the plaintiff a reliable witness?

During the trial, it was clear the plaintiff had a very extensive prior medical history. This included falls, other motor vehicle accidents and robberies. As such, the plaintiff claimed she lived with a number of disabilities and injuries that caused her continuing problems – including those sustained from the April 2013 accident. 

The court also noted that she tended to give long answers and exaggerate.

As part of her defence, the defendant stated the plaintiff did not suffer any ongoing disabilities from the accident – rather her injuries could be blamed on her prior medical history.

While the court accepted the plaintiff had the tendency to exaggerate, she was found to be largely a witness of truth.

Coming to a conclusion 

As well as cross-checking an array of medical reports and video footage, the court also analysed the two statements from the defendant (the driver) and her passenger. Both said they saw no pedestrians around as the car reversed. The driver also confirmed she didn't look over her right shoulder as she performed the manoeuvre. The court also had to consider contributory negligence as a factor. However, as the plaintiff was already crossing the road and shouted for the car to stop, the court concluded she was not contributory to negligence. 

As a result, the court sided with the plaintiff, and agreed to calculate damages at a further date.

If you've been injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident that wasn't your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with the experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners today to see how we can help.

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