Martin v Golding Contractors Pty Ltd [2014] QSC 53

Published 12 Dec 2015

The Plaintiff in this matter was Miss Jodie Martin, having been employed by Golding Contractors. The plaintiff was 23 years of age at the time of accident, and was 28 years old at the time of trial.

She was employed as a truck driver in a coal mine in Queensland. The injury occurred as she was reversing a large mining dump truck so that it could be loaded by a digger. She was still moving backwards when she felt a huge impact to the rear of the truck, the force of which caused her neck and back to be slammed into the back of the seat, before being thrown forward.

As a result she suffered a prolapsed disc in her neck, soft tissue injury in her thoracic spine and a prolapsed disc in her lower back.

Negligence

The Defendant in these proceedings had admitted liability and the issue to be determined was in regard to the amount of damages to be awarded to the Plaintiff.

In deciding on the amount to be awarded, Judge North weighed the evidence given by the Plaintiff and her witnesses, against that of the Defendant.

His Honor accepted evidence given by the Plaintiff that she had an impressive employment history, and she was highly trained in vehicle and machinery competency. Furthermore, he noted the efforts of the Plaintiff in attempting to find alternate work. She at one stage attempted to do part time work as a teachers aid, and she had attempts at truck driving following the accident, but her pain did not allow these attempts to flourish. It was also accepted that the Plaintiff had recovered from all other injuries prior to the injury at hand.

He then considered the witness evidence of truck drivers and plant operators who worked with the Plaintiff, taking into account their opinions of the Plaintiff and their earnings.

The Defendant ran the argument that the coal mining operation where the Plaintiff was injured was coming to a close, and staff were going to be laid off. There was no guarantee that the Plaintiff would have remained employed regardless of the injuries.

Whilst Judge North accepted the Defendant’s argument, he weighed it against the possibility of the Plaintiff finding alternative employment if she was fully fit.

A decision was made in favour of the Plaintiff.

Award for Damages

The Plaintiff was awarded $1,415,094.09 in damages. Of most importance are the following heads of damages:

  1. Past Economic Loss

The Plaintiff was awarded over $330,000.00 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 $700,000.00 for her loss of future income and future opportunity.

  1. General Damages

The Plaintiff was awarded $90,000.00 for the pain and suffering this injury had caused to her enjoyment of life.

  1. Superannuation

The Plaintiff was awarded superannuation for both past and future economic loss at a rate of 11% of the above figure, being an amount of over $100,000.00.

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