APIL has published a Rehab Directory setting out details of all manner of rehabilitation experts. A copy should be available from any member of APIL.

Judges findings upheld despite thin evidence

The Court of Appeal has dealt with a defendant’s appeal against an award of damages for a passenger who suffered injuries when the van that they were travelling in ran into the back of a car. A jointly instructed expert gave evidence; this expert had previously received criticism in connection with another case, and the expert accepted that he had entered the arena on the side of the claimant overlooking the fact that he was jointly instructed.

The Judge found that the claimant had experienced difficulties with her memory since the accident, had undergone a personality change, and had become feebler, more anxious, less able to cope with her work, more easily tired and depressed. He found that a mistaken diagnosis of severe brain trauma based on a temporary misreading of a scan, which had caused the claimant distress, had not been a new intervening cause of her symptoms; and the change in her wellbeing following the accident made it more probable than not that her symptoms were the result of brain damage.

The defendants argued that the Judge had not given tenable reasons for his decision that the claimant had suffered brain damage, and contended that the evidence of the medical expert was more flawed and suspect than the Judge had realised. However, the Court of Appeal, always reluctant to overturn findings of fact by a trial Judge, found that the Judge had not got it wrong and held that the finding of some form of brain damage was rational and defensible on the evidence

Butler -v- Thompson. Court of Appeal 13 July 2005

Award for injuries to the jaw

Awards of damages for injuries to the jaw are fairly uncommon. A 44-year-old woman suffered injuries to the jaw, chin and wrist in a road traffic accident. She suffered permanent jaw damage, loss of edge to edge bite and restriction of jaw opening for two years. She had surgery on the jaw to repair a fracture of the left mandibular condyle.

Following the operation she was left with a scar from above the temple to below the ear. The scar matured so it became invisible, but there was permanent numbness around the scar, and also a 2.5cm slightly irregular scar under the chin. She had an elastic traction device fitted to her teeth, and she had to perform painful exercises. She had to adapt her diet. There was a 50 per cent risk of developing osteoarthritis of the condylar stump, and a risk of joint replacement of less than 10 per cent.

The total award of general damages was £24,500 consisting of £17,000 for the jaw, £2,500 for scarring and an additional £5,000 for special loss of amenity as a result of being forced to abandon an amateur sporting career.

Purser -v- Hampshire County Council. Winchester County Court 17 June 2005.