Another whiplash case. This time the Court of Appeal overturned the findings of a Judge relating to the effect of an injury.
It was agreed that the claimant had suffered a whiplash injury but was in dispute as to how long the effects of the injury had lasted. The claimant’s expert said that the prolonged symptoms of pain and discomfort in the neck were due to the effects of the accident upon her spine.
The defendant’s expert said the immediate effects of the accident were not sufficient to account for the symptoms complained of. The Judge accepted the claimant’s evidence that she continued to experience symptoms, but the focus of the trial shifted when a nine-month period was identified as a possible period of cessation of symptoms such as would justify a conclusion that there had been a break in causation.
The Judge, having found that the claimant had undergone no treatment, physiotherapy or anything similar during that period, concluded that there had been a cessation and that the persistent reoccurrence of genuine symptoms during that period were due to a cause other than the accident. He quantified the claim on that basis.
The claimant appealed on the basis that the Judge’s finding was illogical as he had focused on the lack of treatment over the relevant period without considering and dealing with the claimant’s own evidence of the continuation of symptoms during that time.
The Court of Appeal said that the Judge’s findings on cessation of symptoms entailed a finding that the claimant had been badly mistaken in her repeated assertions that the symptoms had been virtually continuous. This was difficult to reconcile with his commendation of her as a witness, and amounted to a rejection of her evidence as dishonest.
In these circumstances, the Judge’s decision had been logically flawed and the decision on causation could not stand. It was remitted for re-hearing on the issues of whether the claimant would in any event have suffered similar symptoms.
This case is another reminder of the need for Judges to justify their findings based on the evidence before them.
Hardisty -v- Aubrey. Court of Appeal 13 July 2006.