The claimant was shunted from behind at low speed by a car driven by the defendant. Liability was admitted. The claimant consulted her GP the day after the accident complaining that she was suffering from headaches and lower back pain radiating down her left leg. Her persistent back pain continued. She underwent nerve route block injections, a disectomy, lumbar facet joint injections and attended a pain management course, but only obtained temporary relief. At the time of trial she was receiving acupuncture and chiropractic treatment. She has also been diagnosed as clinically depressed and anxious due to the chronic pain she suffered. She took anti-depressants and medication to relieve the pain.

Before the accident she had a very active lifestyle with interests including competitive horse riding, quad bike riding and skiing. She had two children and had three part time jobs. Her ongoing symptoms were assessed as being very severe and affected her ability to work and perform routine tasks. Her ability to walk sit and stand was limited and she was increasingly finding the use of a stick necessary. As a result of the pain and depression, her marriage broke down. Her condition was not expected to change significantly.

General damages of £40,000 were awarded. The total award was £421,000.

Gilbertson -v- Arkell. Judge Bursell, 6 August 2007.

Does the claimant have to receive credit for a sum awarded under the Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers Compensation) Act?

The deceased worked in a shipyard during which time he was regularly exposed to large quantities of asbestos. About 44 years later he died of mesothelioma following a period of illness that began about six months before his death. His widow claimed under the Pneumoconiosis etc Act and signed a declaration that during the period of her claim she would inform the government if she received any compensation or initiated any court action in respect of her husband’s disablement.

She received damages under the Act and subsequently commenced court proceedings. She did not inform the department. At trial she argued that the sum awarded under the Act was a “benefit” under the scope of section 4 of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and so should be disregarded, and the claim under the Pneumoconiosis etc Act was paid and concluded before the Court action was commenced and therefore she had not been required under the declaration to notify the government.

The Judge did not accept this argument and held that the sum awarded under the Act was not a “benefit” for the purposes of section 4 of the FAA 1976 and therefore it had to be deducted when assessing damages.

Cameron -v- Vinters Defence Systems Limited (2007) EW8C 2267. Judge Holland, 12 October 2007