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Impact of injury on Economic Loss

Judge v RH Grey & Son Pty Ltd & Ors [2012] QDC 033 Dorney QC
9 March 2012

Background

Mr Enda Judge was a 26 year old qualified plumber from Ireland who was temporarily doing some farm work on a working holiday when he was injured. He sustained a crush injury to his toes and foot while operating a cotton compactor on 1 May 2009. Mr Judge had to have four of his toes subsequently amputated.

The facts

Liability was admitted and the Court assessed the damages payable to Mr Judge. The main issue in dispute was future economic loss, that is, the extent to which the injury would adversely affect Mr Judge's capacity to earn income.

Judgment

The Court was impressed by Mr Judge's early return to work after the injury and his stoicism in managing the symptoms of his injury in the course of his work as a plumber.

The evidence of Dr Morgan, Orthopaedic Surgeon, was accepted. Dr Morgan was of the view Mr Judge's earning capacity was limited by his injury and that he was not able to work the same amount of overtime as his peers because of his injury.  There was also a risk that Mr Judge may eventually have to scale back his work as a plumber because of his injury.

The Court accepted that Mr Judge would have moved to better paid plumbing work from time to time if not for the injury.

Further, the Court found there was a risk Mr Judge would be limited to sedentary work because of the effects of his injury. As Mr Judge's only qualification was as a plumber (he had no other formal education or qualifications) it would be difficult for him to secure sedentary employment that paid as well as his plumbing work.

The Court awarded $566,752.19 in damages to Mr Judge, $367,500 of which was for future economic loss.