Yamaguchi v Phipp – Japanese born Queenslander receives over $2.2 million following MVA

Published 07 Jun 2017

At the time of the accident the Plaintiff was a 23-year-old female. She enjoyed a range of sporting and recreational activities, lived in her own apartment independent of her parents. She had steady employment with good promotional prospects.

As a result of a horrendous car accident the Plaintiff was left with brain damage, physical and psychological injuries. She had become a shell of her previous self with memory issues and a severe slowing of information processing speeds.

Liability was not an issue in this case as the insurer disputed the quantum of the claim only.

In his judgement Justice Applegarth poured over almost 5 years’ worth of medical records, luckily nearly every single medical expert shared the same opinion as to the likely ongoing prognosis for the Plaintiff. From a medical perspective the occupational therapist reports, which talked about the ongoing care requirements that the Plaintiff would require, were the only points in dispute.

In Queensland a person’s compensation for pain and suffering is determined by an injury scale value. The higher the scale value the higher the award of damages for pain and suffering. After much deliberation is honour awarded a injury scale value of 40 for the Plaintiff’s brain injury, being the dominant injury. This was increased by 40% to an injury scale value of 55 to reflect the multitude of injuries both physical and psychological that the Plaintiff had suffered.

In relation to the Plaintiff’s ongoing loss of income it was generally accepted that the Plaintiff would be unable to work again in any form of real employment. His Honour had the difficult task of determining how much loss of income the Plaintiff would have had over her entire working life.

It was accepted that the Plaintiff was succeeding in her role and but for the accident would have obtained at least one promotion by the time the hearing had occurred. His Honour staggered promotions out to a middle management level stating that it was foreseeable that she probably would have progressed further but this method was fair for both parties.

In relation to the care provided to the Plaintiff the defendant insurer tried to imply that the Plaintiff could have looked after herself and was the victim of excessive mothering by her parents. His Honour quickly dismissed this argument by the insurer stating that the mother had made great devotion and sacrifices towards her daughter and that the mothering had not been excessive.

He relied on evidence that the Plaintiff’s parents had tried to improve their daughter’s standard of life by encouraging her to stay in her apartment by herself to go out with friends and generally to live an independent life. Not always with successful results.

Ultimately the Plaintiff was awarded a judgement amount of over $2.2 million. As the Plaintiff lived in Japan the matter was adjourned so that His Honour could hear submissions as to the conversion rate between Australian dollars and Japanese yen.

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