Judge wrong to reject evidence on damages

The claimant suffered a whiplash-type soft tissue injury to his neck and shoulders in a road traffic accident. He claimed future loss of overtime earnings, future miscellaneous losses and future payments for osteopathic therapy. The judge discounted a number of these future losses on the basis that he had found the claimant’s account as to his ongoing symptoms “incredible”. The judge held that the claimant had been seeking to mislead the experts appointed. On appeal, the claimant argued that the judge had been wrong to discount the future losses claimed where there had been no evidence that he had mislead the experts, and he had in fact been supported in his account of his symptoms by the experts.

The Court of Appeal held that it was not open to the judge to find that the claimant’s evidence as to his ongoing condition was incredible. His account of his symptoms had been supported by the expert’s reports, including an expert instructed by the defendants, and the defendants themselves had never raised the issue of credibility. It was never suggested that the claimant was lying and the judge was not entitled to reach that conclusion. The judge’s finding on credibility was set aside and an award of damages was made as agreed between the parties.

Coles -v- Greaves, Court of Appeal, 10 May 2005.

Catastrophic injuries: claims for the cost of modern technologies

The claimant suffered a traumatic brain injury and was severely and permanently disabled requiring 24-hour care for the rest of his life. The court had to consider, as a head of damage, the cost of video telephone charges. While the cost of modern technology can be difficult to quantify, and in some instances prices have fallen as devices become more regularly available and competition for services increase, it was held that the claimant could recover the cost of video telephone call charges at current prices; there was no evidence available as to the trends in charging rates of this relatively new technology in the future, and speculation as to whether the rates were to go up or down was undesirable.

Patel -v- Wright (2005) EWHC 347