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Liability admitted but future economic loss disputed

Haden v Smith's Snackfood Company Limited [2013] QMC 1

Shearer SG

11 February 2013

Background

The plaintiff was injured at work on 7 November 2010 when a packing machine jammed and, whilst attempting to cut away the obstruction, she cut her left thumb to an extent that it was required to be surgically repaired. The surgery necessitated an overnight stay in hospital, followed by a week off work.

Upon her return to work, the plaintiff was initially given light duties whilst her hand was encased in a cast. Her treating general practitioner Dr Goh cleared her for a return to normal duties in January 2011, however the defendant company kept the plaintiff on restricted duties for another four to six weeks after that clearance was given. During that period of light and restricted duties the plaintiff was unable to perform overtime, which had previously been a regular source of additional income for her.

Liability

Liability has been admitted. Aside from a small disagreement between the parties as to the appropriate injury scale value to be applied with respect to general damages, special damages have been agreed, as has the Fox v Wood component of any award. The judge was required to assess the appropriate injury scale value for the award of general damages and its consequent  quantum, and to assess damages for past and future economic loss.

Judgment

The parties are agreed that the level of whole person impairment suffered by the plaintiff is 2%, and that the plaintiff's injury falls within Item 118 of Schedule 9 of the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Regulation 2003 (moderate hand injury).

The judge ordered that the defendant pay the plaintiff $61,601.06.

Appeal

QDC 260

Ryrie DCJ

17 October 2013

The appeal was allowed, but the judge set aside the order made at first instance that the defendant pay the plaintiff $61,601.06. Instead, the judge ordered that judgment be given for the plaintiff in the sum of $31,501.59.

The judge noted the Magistrate had incorrectly calculated damages by neglecting to deduct the WorkCover refund, and had miscalculated future economic loss.