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Evidence and symptoms must support damages claim

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This case highlights that in the case of a psychiatric injury, that evidence and symptoms must support the damages claim.  

Background

The plaintiff is a 50 year old locomotive driver, who alleged he developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of witnessing his co-worker being run over by a train in 2010. The co-worker survived and made a reasonable recovery.

The Plaintiff continued working with the employer after the incident.

Liability

Quantum was the only issue in dispute.

The plaintiff's supervisors denied that the plaintiff complained about psychiatric symptoms after the incident and did not request to change lines to avoid the accident site.

The employer did not re-engage the plaintiff’s employment in the 2014 crushing season as he had instituted his claim for damages at that time, stating that he had significant difficulties performing his occupation due to his psychiatric symptoms.

Decision

In the judgment, his Honour concluded:

* The plaintiff exaggerated his symptoms, including alcohol abuse / dependence in order to bolster his claim.

* The plaintiff initially suffered from PTSD but that condition remitted and did not interfere with his work until sometime in 2013/2014 when he commenced litigation.

* The plaintiff did not report to the employer any difficulties with performing problems with his duties as a result of psychiatric symptoms and his performance was in fact above satisfactory.

* The employer’s termination of the plaintiff’s employment in 2014 was reasonable given that it was put on notice of the matters pleaded in his Statement of Claim, namely that it was a safety risk to continue to employing him but the termination itself was not evidence of his incapacity to work.

* The plaintiff’s symptoms will remit and are unlikely to be permanent once litigation resolves which will result in the plaintiff being able to return to work in the same capacity as what he did prior to commencing his claim.

The plaintiff claimed damages of around $750,000. His Honour awarded damages of $174,689.87, which included $100,000 for future economic loss and $25,000 for future medical treatment.

His Honour also ordered that we pay the plaintiff’s standard costs.
Last updated
01 July 2015

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