Public liability claim leads to $445,372 payout for plaintiff

Date: Jun 12, 2018

A woman has received $445,372 after filing a public liability claim for injuries she sustained aboard a cruise ship in 2011. The plaintiff, who was 14 years old at the time, has suffered both physical and psychological harm in the years since.

On the day of the accident, she was standing with two of her cousins in a companionway of the ship when three ceiling panels suddenly fell and struck her head and left shoulder. The panels were approximately 1-metre long and fitted with various electrical components.

While the plaintiff did not lose consciousness, she did feel immediate pain in her head and the ship's medical practitioner examined her. The plaintiff claimed she was beginning to suffer pain at the base of her neck and left shoulder by the time the ship docked at Sydney Harbour.

Cruise operator contests seriousness of injuries

The cruise ship operator admitted liability for the incident, but the company contested the extent of the plaintiff's injuries. The case therefore proceeded to the NSW Supreme Court for a judge's decision.

Since the accident, the plaintiff has continued to experience neck, shoulder and spinal pain. She claimed the discomfort from her injuries has caused her difficulties with academia and employment, as well as mental health problems.

The plaintiff was eventually diagnosed with a chronic adjustment disorder, which means a patient has an unusual or excessive reaction to a stressful experience. She also has mixed anxiety with a depressed mood.

Various medical practitioners have examined the plaintiff, with the general consensus being that she has a spinal disc injury of undetermined severity. Doctors suggested that surgery may be the only option to alleviate her pain.

A breakdown of the plaintiff's compensation

Justice Stephen Campbell said the ongoing impact of the injury on the plaintiff, particularly regarding her academic and career progression, appears significant.

The judge said her non-economic losses – which cover pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and other problems – should be measured at 33 per cent of a most extreme case. He awarded the plaintiff $202,000 as a result.

Justice Campbell also ordered the defendant to pay more than $50,000 for past and future out-of-pocket expenses, as well as $110,000 for loss of income and over $67,000 for gratuitous care and support costs.

Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers has helped thousands of people receive personal injury compensation in similar cases. Please contact us today to learn how we can help you begin a claim.

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