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Relationship between two separate injuries

Hartin v Rigel Constructions Pty Ltd [2013] QSC 320

Applegarth J

21 November 2013

Background

The plaintiff was employed as a delivery driver/labourer by Rigel. He was injured on 22 February 2008 whilst manually unloading from the tray of a truck and carrying a roller door weighing at least 50kgs. Rigel was the first defendant to the proceedings and liability was admitted on behalf of the first defendant.

After having been retrenched in January 2009 by Rigel the plaintiff commenced employment as a school bus driver from January 2009 and on 23 March 2009 whilst driving a bus along a narrow, damaged road, the bus struck a pothole and the plaintiff was reinjured. The employer for that incident, Bus Queensland Pty Limited, was second defendant to the proceedings. Prior to trial they settled the claim against the second defendant which meant the trial proceeded solely against Rigel.

Liability

The plaintiff claimed and relied upon the expert opinion of Dr Gillett who was a jointly appointed expert to say that he had suffered as an initial injury a derangement of the L4/5 vertebral disc with associated sciatica. In the incident on 23 March 2009 he aggravated the pre-existing spine condition and underwent an L4/5 laminectomy on 8 July 2009 and has been in receipt of disability support pension since 2010.

The case turned upon the extent to which the first incident caused the derangement of the L4/5 vertebral disc and the relationship between the injury sustained in the first and second incident and the loss and damage that was caused by the first incident.

Judgment

Judgment was entered for the plaintiff for $281,799.42.