Harris v State of Queensland [2014] QDC 35

Published 12 Oct 2015

The Plaintiff in these proceedings, Ms Harris, was working as an admissions clerk at the Maryborough Correctional Centre when she was struck from behind by a trolley that was being used by another employee. The Defendant in this matter was the State of Queensland, being the Plaintiff’s employer. The incident caused the Plaintiff to have ruptured ligaments in her left ankle.

Approximately one year after the injury, the Plaintiff developed a psychiatric illness which she claimed was a result of the work injury. The Defendant contested this and the predominant issue became whether or not the injuries were caused by the Defendant’s negligence.

Negligence
There was no dispute against the ankle injury being related to the work injury. The only dispute in this manner was that the injury itself had healed and there was only mild ongoing pain following surgery. However, the claim for the psychiatric injury was denied by the Defendant.

The Judge found that there was no evidence that the Plaintiff suffered a psychiatric condition prior to the injury occurring and also found that the Plaintiff sufficiently established a causal connection between the Defendant’s negligence and the full extent of the Plaintiff’s incapacity, which included the psychiatric injury.

Award for Damages
The Plaintiff was awarded $311,708.70 in damages. Of most importance are the following heads of damages:

  1. Past Economic Loss

The Plaintiff was awarded over $140,000.00 for her lost income from the date of injury until the date the decision was handed down.

  1. Future Economic Loss

The Plaintiff was awarded $100,000.00 for her loss of income whilst she undergoes further rehabilitation treatment. This estimate was given on the basis that it would take 12-18 months of rehabilitation to allow the Plaintiff to be in a position to return to work.

  1. General Damages

The Plaintiff was awarded $45,000.00 for the pain and suffering this injury had caused to her enjoyment of life.

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