Victim of a violent assault prevails with further compensation on appeal.

ROBERTSON V HOPWOOD [2018] WADC 66

It is uncontentious that on the day of the incident, the respondent (Mr Hopwood) was at the Inglewood Hotel watching a rugby match from about 6.00 pm and that the appellant (Mr Robertson) was also there.

It is also uncontentious that the Mr Hopwood had known the offender for approximately 10 years, as a work colleague and once a friend, but that the two had fallen out before the incident over some work contracts. Their work environment was quite toxic.

The CCTV footage of the incident shows the Mr Hopwood and his friend on their way out of the hotel. Mr Hopwood’s attention was drawn by a call from a woman, Sarah, who he knew and who was Mr Robertson’s sister. Mr Hopwood stopped to talk to Sarah. He spoke to her for less than a minute. There is nothing in the CCTV footage to suggest that the conversation was anything other than amicable and short.

As Mr Hopwood then turned to leave, he saw Mr Robertson and some brief words were exchanged.

Mr Hopwood and a friend then exchanged some words and Mr Robertson’s friend grabbed Mr Hopwood by the arm.

Mr Hopwood’s written statement states that he remembers exchanging words with Mr Robertson and his friends but did not remember what those words were. His next recollection was being in an ambulance and later at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Mr Hopwood in this matter had brought a cross-appeal applying for the Criminal Injuries Compensation assessor’s decision to be increased on the basis that the allowance “for general damages; past and future loss of income as well as past and future treatment expenses were too low”. Mr Hopwood sought to be paid the maximum award of compensation of $75,000.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Assessor, by a compensation award dated 6 November 2015, awarded Mr Hopwood the sum of $49,041.11 compensation (the award) for the injuries and losses that the assessor was satisfied he had suffered as a consequence of the incident.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation assessor was satisfied that Mr Hopwood had been injured in the commission of a proven offence and the application was there for properly brought pursuant to s 12 of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act. In the course of her decision, the Criminal Injuries Compensation assessor also considered whether any award should be reduced because, at one stage during the incident, Mr Hopwood had head-butted Mr Robinson.

There are specific heads of loss defined in s 6 of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act to include:

  • expenses actually and reasonably incurred by or on behalf of the victim –
    • that arise directly from; or
    • that arise in obtaining any report from a health professional or a counsellor in relation to, the injury suffered by the victim; or
  • expenses that are likely to be reasonably incurred by or on behalf of the victim for treatment that the victim is likely to need as a direct consequence of the injury suffered by the victim; or
  • loss of earnings suffered by the victim as a direct consequence of the injury suffered by the victim;
  • any loss arising from any damage caused as a direct consequence of the commission of the offence to any personal item that was being worn by the victim when he or she suffered the injury.

On reflection the judge stated “Accordingly, I am prepared to award the respondent (Mr Hopwood) compensation in the sum of $75,000 being the statutory maximum and which is made up of the sum of $40,000 in general damages and so much of the losses under 6(2)(a) to take it up to the statutory maximum”.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Duty of care after explosion

BAKER -v- LOCK [2018] WADC 48

The plaintiff, Mr Jesse Baker (Mr Baker) visited Mr Robert Lock (Robert) at his residence (premises) to discuss and pay for repairs that Robert had agreed to make to Mr Baker’s motorcycle. Whilst the two men and another man, were seated in a rear shed at the premises, Robert lit a cigarette lighter proximate to an open paint thinners tin or drum causing an immediate explosion and consequent fire which consumed the shed. All three men suffered burns.

Mr Baker sued William and Lynette Lock, parents to Robert (Mr and Mrs Lock), as owners of the premises by alleging that they owed him a duty of care, breached that duty and caused his injuries pursuant to the Occupiers Liability Act 1985 (OLA).

The issues for determination were as follows:

  1. Was Mr Baker injured in the explosion and fire at the premises? 

The Court concluded that “… I [t was] am satisfied that Mr Baker suffered serious burns as a direct consequence of the explosion and fire caused by Robert lighting a cigarette lighter which ignited vapour from an open thinners drum in the rear shed of the premises… 

  1. Did Mr and Mrs Lock occupy the premises pursuant to the OLA or were they landlords at the relevant time? 

The Court found that it was “… satisfied on all of the evidence that Mr and Mrs Lock left Perth and agreed with their son Robert and daughter Ms Lock that they would stay in the premises…”, thus not being occupiers but landlords to Robert.

  1. If Mr and Mrs Lock were occupiers or landlords, what, if any, was the statutory duty of care they owed to Mr Baker?

The Court indicated that it found the “… arrangement between Mr and Mrs Lock and Robert…was a periodic verbal tenancy agreement where Mr and Mrs Lock were the landlords and Robert and Ms Lock the tenants…”, hence Robert had a duty of care as occupier of the premises to all lawful entrants. 

  1. Was there any other common law duty of care they owed to Mr Baker? 

The Court concluded that “Although Mr and Mrs Lock owed Mr Baker a common law duty of care as landlords due to an invitee to the premises, their duty did not extend to the danger created by Robert.  Mr and Mrs Lock owed Mr Baker no other common law duty …

Although Mr and Mrs Lock owed a duty of care to Mr Baker pursuant to the provisions of the OLA and also at common law, those duties had no application in this case.” Because even if Mr Baker was able to establish duty and breach as pleaded, none of those breaches caused his injuries.  It was not the storage of flammable substances in a shed to which visitors had access that caused the explosion. Rather the explosion was caused by Robert introducing an ignition source proximate to an open thinners drum. It follows that Mr Baker’s claim against Mr and Mrs Lock was dismissed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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After Dark Stroll Turns Deadly

ROWE -v- ROSE [2018] WADC 38

At approximately 10.00 pm on 20 May 2013, the Defendant drove her motor vehicle from her home and turned into Preston Point Road, Bicton, driving in an easterly direction. Her motor vehicle struck Mr Prime on the roadway as he was walking his dog. There were no eyewitnesses.

Mr Prime died one week after he was struck by the Defendant’s motor vehicle.

It is alleged that Mr Prime’s death was caused by the negligent driving of the Defendant. The defence denies that any negligence on the part of the defendant caused his death and alleges that Mr Prime’s own negligence contributed to his death as he should have been keeping a proper lookout.

At the time of the motor vehicle accident, Mr Prime was wearing dark clothing, including a hoodie. He had consumed two or three Corona beers that evening. He more probably than not had another beer in his hand at the time. Subsequent tests indicated he had an ethanol reading of 0.12% and a blood alcohol content of 0.1%.

The Defendant was the only witness able to give any evidence of the motor vehicle accident. In cross-examination, she maintained that her car’s bonnet would have blocked her view up the road. She disagreed with the proposition that the roadway was level or very close to level.

After multiple expert analyses were tendered in evidence, the Court concluded that “It is reasonable, in all the circumstances, and in the absence of other evidence or explanation….that the defendant’s failure to perceive and detect Mr Prime as a pedestrian sooner than she did and to take steps to avoid her motor vehicle crashing into him, caused or materially contributed to that crash and his death”.

As the sole provider and carer for Mr Prime’s two children, Mr Prime’s partner and the children were awarded compensation pursuant to the Fatal Injuries Act.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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A Horrible Act Sees Compensation Awarded to Victim

RE HCM [2018] WADC 20

HCM was born on 2 May 1983 in Vienna, Austria. She is now 34 years old. She was born to SH and a man whose name is not known. He played no part in her life. Not long after the birth SH emigrated to Australia with HCM and settled in Western Australia. HCM has resided in Australia since then.

HCM attended Iona Primary School in Mosman Park. In year 7 she attended St Thomas Primary School in Claremont in the hope that, in year 8, she might be accepted at John XXIII College in Mt Claremont for her secondary schooling.

HCM’s mother was concerned about HCM’s weakness in mathematics and, anxious to improve her marks in that field, with a view to gaining entry to John XXIII College, engaged the services of a tutor in mathematics to provide after-school tutoring.

The tutor had placed advertisements in local newspapers circulating in the western suburbs of Perth offering his services as a tutor in mathematics. HCM’s mother noticed his advertisement and contacted him. She engaged him to provide after-school tutoring at their home in Monument Street, Mosman Park. The tutor was, at that time, a teacher at Scotch College in Swanbourne in his mid-50s.

HCM said that she was unable to tell her parents about the tutor’s molestation of her and did not do so. The first person she told was, she said, a psychiatrist, Dr Ann McDonald, at her rooms at Stirling Street, Fremantle. That was in 1999. She was not, she said, ready to report the matter to police at that time.

HCM’s final encounter with the tutor was when she was in her final year of primary school. The next few years saw the breakdown of her family life leading to an apparent abandonment by her mother, educational disruption and a descent into mental ill-health. As her mental state deteriorated the matter of the tutor’s treatment of her came to the attention of Dr McDonald. She referred that matter to appropriate authorities but it appears to have been taken no further. At the age of about 26 years HCM brought the matter to the attention of the police. The tutor was charged but later released following the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute the matter further. HCM’s period of mental ill-health was, no doubt, a factor in that decision-making process.

FINDINGS

The correct approach to adopt in fixing an appropriate amount of compensation is to apply ordinary principles of assessment of damages subject, of course, to the jurisdictional limit imposed by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act (Act). The jurisdictional limit for offences committed between 1 July 1991 and 31 December 2003 as prescribed by s 31 of the Act is $50,000.

Where there are multiple offences on separate occasions, the Act does not limit compensation to the maximum for a single offence. Accordingly, pursuant to s 34(2) of the Act, the maximum penalty that can be awarded in this matter is $100,000.

The maximum compensation payable under the Act is merely a jurisdictional limit and not reserved for the worst cases.

In such circumstances, a Court may not make an award of compensation unless satisfied that the claimed injury and loss has occurred as a consequence of the commission of the alleged offences. Given the very significant troubles which confronted HCM in the years following her treatment at the hands of the tutor, the issue of causation is a difficult one. Sympathy for HCM has no role to play in the task that the Court had to undertake.

Injury” is widely defined by the Act to mean bodily harm, mental and nervous shock or pregnancy. “Loss” is defined by s 6 of the Act and includes expenses that are actually and reasonably incurred by or on behalf of the victim that arise directly from or that arise in obtaining any report from a health professional or a counsellor in relation to the injury suffered by the victim.

As with the issue of liability the burden of proof is on HCM to establish, on the balance of probabilities, a causal relationship between the commission of the offence by the tutor and her injuries. It is sufficient for her to establish that the offence materially contributed to any injury or loss.

If the evidence establishes that a non-compensable event contributed to the claimed injury or loss the award of compensation must be reduced to take into account that other contribution.

If it is not possible to disentangle the consequences of the offence from the non-compensable event the claimant is entitled to the full amount of compensation.

The Court on appeal from a decision of the Criminal Injuries Compensation assessor accepted that HCM had been diagnosed with “multiple psychiatric conditions since 1999, including depression, adjustment disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder” arising from the alleged incidents with the tutor and concluded that an award of $78,970 was adequate to compensate HCM for her injuries.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Applicant’s Award Lowered on Appeal

(Underwood v Underwood [2018] WADC 13)

On the 1st of December 2015, an argument took place at a residence in Safety Bay, during which the appellant slapped the respondent across the face once with an open palm and also kicked her left leg once. The respondent sustained bruising and swelling to the left side of her face and bruising to her left leg. An ambulance attended the scene and conveyed her to the Rockingham Hospital. In the same incident, the appellant kicked a third party in the testicles for which she was charged with a common assault. The appellant pleaded guilty to the assault and was sentenced on 2 March 2016.

The respondent lodged a Criminal Injuries Compensation claim and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Assessor awarded the respondent $16,221 for her injuries, to which, the appellant appealed and contended that the determination was manifestly excessive.

During the appeal the Court had to determine 6 key points, namely:

  • to what extent is an applicant for criminal injuries compensation permitted to adduce evidence going beyond the facts on which the offender was convicted?
  • has the psychological report relied on by the respondent based on impermissible factual material?
  • has the respondent proven that her psychological injuries were suffered as a consequence of the commission of the assault on her by the appellant?
  • has the respondent proven that she sustained an aggravation to a pre-existing back injury?
  • what award of compensation was appropriate?
  • Should any award of compensation be reduced due to the respondent’s behaviour pursuant to s 41 of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003?

After coming to a determination on these points during trial, the judge found that “the two injuries I have found the respondent to have sustained as a consequence of the commission of the Assault are PTSD and an aggravation of her pre-existing degenerative back injury. As to the former, the PTSD symptoms resolved with treatment with a few months, and there is no further treatment required. At to the latter, it is clear from the evidence that the respondent’s pre-existing back injury had required intervention prior to the Assault and would in any event have required intervention after the Assault.  So, the extent of the aggravation was not significant…” and awarded $5,000 for non-economic loss and $1,221 for medical expenses and a medical report.

The Court concluded that none of the grounds raised by the appellant had merit, except for the fact that the award was excessive considering the available medical evidence and proceeded to vary the Assessor’s award from $16,221 to $6,221, with costs of the Appeal.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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A Major Win After a Tough Few Years

MAJOK v KORYIOM [2017] WADC 157

The appellant, who is now 27 years old, was seriously assaulted by the respondent on 13 April 2013. The respondent was convicted after trial, on 6 May 2014, of the offence of doing grievous bodily harm (the offence).

On 23 June 2014 the respondent was sentenced for the offence to a term of imprisonment of 6 years, backdated to 13 April 2013 with eligibility for parole. The findings of fact by the sentencing judge included that while the appellant and the respondent were at a friend’s house, the appellant was physically assaulted by the respondent and then taken into the back-garden area of the house adjoining the carport, where “for no reason that can be discerned” the respondent used an accelerant spray of some kind and set the appellant alight. His clothing caught fire, he lost consciousness, but regained same a little time later and felt that he was burning. The appellant suffered serious burns to his body, in particular his left forearm, hand and right chest, which required skin grafts, and he has been left with permanent scars.

The appellant made an application for criminal injuries compensation pursuant to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003 (the Act) in respect of his injuries and consequent losses. On 18 November 2016, the Chief Assessor of Criminal Injuries Compensation (the assessor) awarded Mr Majok criminal injuries compensation in the sum of $23,100. That sum included $1,100 for medical report fees.

On 1 December 2016, the appellant filed a notice of appeal against the decision of the assessor on the ground that the award of compensation made to him was “so manifestly inadequate as to constitute an error of law”.

The claimed inadequacy in the award to the appellant related to three areas:

  • the physical injuries suffered by the appellant, in particular the scarring to his hands, left forearm and chest;
  • the mental or nervous shock he suffered as a consequence of the offence; and
  • the failure of the assessor to allow any award for past loss of earnings or future loss of earning capacity.

The appellant also sought the cost of future medical treatment, based on the new evidence from his treating doctor.

In the findings the presiding Judge stated, “… the pain and suffering and residual scarring alone are enough for me to conclude that the award of damages of $22,000 is inadequate…”

The court stated that it was satisfied that the appellant has suffered and still suffers from mental and nervous shock within the meaning of the Act, namely PTSD, depression and anxiety and somatic delusions, as a result of the offence and the injuries he received.The court indicated that it had no doubt that the assault on the appellant and the burns he suffered during the offence would have been a very traumatic experience.

The Judge concluded “… for the reasons which follow I consider that the award of damages to Mr Majok was manifestly inadequate. I have allowed the appeal and assessed Mr Majok’s damages as the maximum allowable under the Act of $75,000.”

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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A Few Quiet Drinks Turns into a Life Changing Situation

RE PIGGOTT [2017] WADC 150

Mr Piggott and Mr Benjamin Browne were involved in an incident at Mr Browne’s residence. During the incident Mr Browne struck Mr Piggott and Mr Piggott sustained grievous bodily harm. At the time there were four adults at the residence. Mr Browne’s wife, Mrs Taryn Browne, says she was inside. His brother, Mr Nathan Browne, says he was around the corner relieving himself. Mr Browne and Mr Piggott both give vastly different accounts of what occurred.

Shortly after the incident Mr Piggott left the residence and was spoken to by ambulance officers. The police spoke to Mr Piggott and Mr Browne on the night in question. Mr Piggott was taken to hospital, treated and then discharged. About a week later he underwent surgery to his injuries.

Initially he did not make a formal complaint to police, but later on Mr Piggott applied for compensation under s 17 of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003 (WA) (the Act). An assessor of Criminal Injuries Compensation (Assessor) refused the application as the Assessor was not satisfied on a balance of probabilities that an alleged offence occurred. Mr Piggott appealed to the District Court of Western Australia against that decision.

The issues on appeal were as follows:

  • whether the court was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that an alleged offence was committed against Mr Piggott;
  • whether Mr Piggott was engaged in criminal conduct at the time he sustained the alleged injury;
  • whether Mr Piggott, by his behaviour, contributed to the alleged injury; and
  • if the court was satisfied that it was appropriate to make an award, the amount of the award to be made.

Multiple witnesses were called to recollect their version of events, including ambulance and police officers who attended the incident, with different versions provided.

As to whether an alleged offence had been committed, the judge on appeal found that he was “… not satisfied that it is more likely than not that the grievous bodily harm was unlawfully caused. Mr Piggott has to satisfy me that the bodily harm was unlawfully caused and all I am able to say is that there was a verbal confrontation then a physical confrontation between the two men resulting in Mr Browne causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Piggott. In light of the intoxication of both men, the fact that both have, in my view, changed aspects of their evidence so that it fits with other evidence, and the defects in their evidence I am not able to say exactly what occurred in the physical confrontation.

As to whether Mr Piggott was engaged in criminal conduct at the time of the injury, the judge on appeal stated that “if the court is satisfied that Mr Piggott’s behaviour contributed to the alleged offence, the court may either refuse to make a compensation award or reduce the amount that would otherwise have been awarded” and went on to find that he was “ not satisfied it is more likely than not that Mr Browne was not acting in self-defence nor satisfied that it is more likely than not that his acts were not retaliation which went beyond self-defence in response to Mr Piggott’s assault and therefore the application ought be dismissed.”

 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Day Off Turns Into a Nightmare

RAMSAY HEALTH CARE AUSTRALIA PTY LTD VS WYATT – [2017] WADC 145

On 8 April 2014 (on a rostered day off), Ms Wyatt attended the hospital where she worked to complete a form that had been requested of her previously. It is accepted that her attendance did not relate to the nursing duties for which she was employed. As she went to sit on a chair proximate to the computer she intended to use, she missed the chair, landed heavily on her buttocks on the floor and suffered injury. Thereafter, Ms Wyatt commenced a workers’ compensation claim for weekly payments of compensation and statutory expenses.

The hospital denied liability and disputed the fact of the injury arose out of or in the course of her employment with it.

On 29 November 2016, an arbitrator at WorkCover found in favour of Ms Wyatt and ordered that the hospital pay her weekly payments of compensation for total incapacity for the period from 8 April 2014 to 12 November 2014 and from 12 to 22 January 2015.

The hospital appealed the arbitrator’s decision, pursuant to section 247(1) of the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act. The issues for the appeal were:

  • whether the factual material placed before the arbitrator compelled a finding that the Ms Wyatt’s injury was in fact suffered in the course of her employment, notwithstanding that she had not been rostered to work on that day and had attended her place of work of her own volition; or
  • whether Ms Wyatt’s attendance at the hospital on that day was reasonably required, expected or authorised in order to carry out her actual duties or necessarily incidental thereto, that is to say, in the context of what Ms Wyatt was employed to do.

The court observed that after “… having reviewed the arbitrator’s findings and reasons, I am satisfied that in making the finding that the arbitrator did not apply the correct test when determining if the respondent’s injury occurred in the course of her employment…”.

The judge found that he was “…. satisfied that the arbitrator was in error in focusing on what the respondent (Ms Wyatt) was doing at the time, rather than whether the appellant (the hospital) had induced or encouraged the respondent to engage in that activity at the time and the place when she suffered the injury …” and dismissed Ms Wyatt’s appeal.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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‘Relatively Easily’ Brain Surgery Has Tragic Results

PANAGOULIAS -v- THE EAST METROPOLITAN HEALTH SERVICE [No.4] [2017] WADC 118

Prior to his injuries the plaintiff was a very social person. He enjoyed a range of leisure activities like, fishing and cooking, home handy work including renovating and tinkering with cars, and enjoyed his work as well.

In December 2005, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He had been experiencing headaches for some time, he was referred to a neurosurgeon.

The tumour was determined to be benign but needed to be removed. The plaintiff and his wife were advised that this kind of tumour was ‘relatively easily’ managed. The phrase ‘relatively easily’ must of course be understood in the particular context of brain surgery, with all its significant inherent risk.

On 23 January 2006, the neurosurgeon performed the required surgery and about 90% of the tumour mass was removed.

The headaches began to return however, along with some vision problems. Once again, the neurosurgeon was consulted. He advised that it would be necessary to deal with the part of the tumour that remained.

The plaintiff was admitted to hospital for the surgery. The surgery was performed the next day. It was not a success. In the course of the surgery the neurosurgeon nicked the plaintiff’s carotid artery causing worrying bleeding. The attempt to remove the tumour was abandoned.

When the plaintiff left hospital, his condition was stable, except perhaps for a fairly constant and consistent mucous discharge from his nose. The plaintiff had been advised not to blow his nose, but this discharge meant that he was constantly wiping it.

Over the course of the next few weeks the plaintiff and his wife consulted with the neurosurgeon many times over the phone seeking medical advice, including for a severe sneeze suffered by the plaintiff.

In the early hours of one morning, the plaintiff’s wife woke up to find him complaining about having ‘quite a severe headache’.

The following morning, the plaintiff’s wife called the neurosurgeon and told him that her husband had a very uncomfortable night, that he was in a lot of pain, and that he had a really bad headache. She said that he responded by saying to her something to the effect of ‘well you need to take him into the emergency department. There could be something going on with his aneurysm thing and he just needs to be in the hospital over the weekend so that they can observe him’.

After presenting to the hospital, the plaintiff was admitted to a ward, an observation made suggested that the plaintiff was ‘OK‘. Just eight minutes later he was ‘found to be unresponsive’ and experiencing ‘hemiplegia‘ (That is, one side of his body was paralysed). Shortly after this he lost consciousness, an emergency team was called, and the plaintiff was intubated and ventilated. By this time a bacterial meningitis had caused the plaintiff severe and irreversible brain damage.

The plaintiff continued to have multiple medical episodes, being the result of neurological problems caused by the brain injury.

Breaches

The breach alleged against the neurosurgeon by both the plaintiff and the hospital was that he neurosurgeon failed to provide the plaintiff with an appropriate warning or advice after the plaintiff had sneezed out a piece of what appeared to be fatty material. The neurosurgeon should have told him to immediately go to hospital if he developed ‘other symptoms including a more severe headache, stiff neck, high temperature or photophobia‘. That obligation is said to arise from a number of facts and circumstances, sometimes summarised by the notion that the plaintiff was a ‘complicated case’.

The plaintiff’s allegation of breach as against the hospital is that, given the plaintiff’s history and his symptoms on presentation at the ED and throughout the course of the day, the staff at RPH failed to act in a timely way to treat the plaintiff’s bacterial meningitis.

Findings

The judge stated that “the plaintiff’s former life has been taken from him. He is left not only with significant physical disabilities, but with the cognitive and emotional problems that have been described, there is no prospect whatever of recovery” and had no hesitation in finding that the failure to commence intravenous antibiotics and corticosteroids by a certain time breached the duty of care owed by the hospital to the plaintiff. In that regard, the evidence presented was that if the plaintiff had been treated with intravenous antibiotics and corticosteroids earlier, then, on the balance of probabilities, the plaintiff would not have suffered an adverse outcome from the bacterial meningitis infection.

Order

The judge ordered that the plaintiff should have judgment against the hospital for a substantial amount but dismissed the action against the neurosurgeon.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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5 Questions To Ask Your Lawyer

Choosing the right lawyer for your individual case is essential to getting the result you want. In order to find out if a lawyer is right for you, here at 5 crucial questions to ask:

1: What kind of lawyer are they?

Some lawyers are “general practitioners” who work on a variety of types of legal cases, including personal injury cases. With a serious personal injury claim, you need an expert lawyer who handles personal injury cases on daily basis. The practice of law has become so complex that is it practically impossible for a ‘jack of all trades’ lawyer to stay on top of all the changes in personal injury law practices. The majority of lawyers who are hired by insurance companies to defend personal injury cases are experienced experts who limit their practice to the defence of personal injury cases. A non-expert lawyer is likely to be at a large disadvantage when they represent a claimant against a law firm that specializes in the defence of personal injuries cases (on behalf of insurance companies).

2: Track record: Have they taken cases similar to this one in the past? How many? What was the result?

Even though a lawyer may specialise in a particular practice they may not be particularly accomplished in it. They may be new to the area of practice, practice it part of the time, or might just be unskilled. How many cases like yours have they handled in the past? Experienced personal injury lawyers who have been helping claimants with cases for many years will have gained valuable negotiation and trial expertise. They should have knowledge about the legal circumstances of a case like yours. In addition to experience, your lawyer to have a proven track record of success on cases similar to yours. Ask the lawyer what results they have had in the past, good or bad. Reading about previous success stories will give you an idea of the possible results and your lawyer’s abilities.

3: How long does the attorney think it will take to resolve this case?

Time is a precious resource when you’re in the processing of claiming compensation, medical expenses and time out of work add up. Knowing approximately how long it will take before you are compensated for your injuries helps in preparing yourself for the process ahead. It is important to know how long your life may be disrupted by attendance at legal proceedings, investigative doctor visits as these unseen time costs can add to the stress of your situation. There are a number of factors that will affect the duration of a trial, therefore while a lawyer will not be able to give you a precise time frame, they should be able to give a general indication based on how long cases comparable to yours have taken in the past.

4: Who will actually be servicing your case?

The lawyer you meet with at the initial consultation should also be the lawyer handling your case in order to get the best service and representation. Most large law firms use an approach where you will be initially speaking to a partner or higher up who is experienced and skilled but then your case will be handed down to a junior lawyer or general team. You need to know the name of the lawyer who is actually doing the legal work on your claim and if that lawyer is a specialist in personal injury law. If not, they are not the right lawyer.

5: Do I feel comfortable with this lawyer handling my case?

This is as an important question as any, as with many things in life, often our gut instinct is right. In your first meeting with a lawyer, you should be able to feel if you can trust them with your personal injury case. Trust, communication and honesty are essential qualities of a good personal injury lawyer and you should only pick a lawyer that you believe can get the best result for you.

Contact us with any queries you may have, and to check all of the above points! We can come out to you for a no obligation free first consultation.

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