Trial outcome – checking the detail of medico–legal evidence in mixed tariff injuries
Legal Development 04 May 2023 04 May 2023
UK & Europe
Birkenhead County Court has recently been asked to decide upon quantum of a mixed tariff/non-tariff injury with the court finding that there was no evidence that the non-tariff injuries had any significant impact on the claimant.
The claimant was stationary in his vehicle when a car, being driven by the defendant, collided with the rear of his vehicle. Liability was not in dispute.
The tariff injuries sustained by the claimant were not in dispute - £520 had been agreed as the appropriate figure for the 5 month lower back injury, a 2 week neck injury and a 1 week injury to the left shoulder.
What remained in contention was a claimed 6 month injury to the right knee and, in addition, a 2 week injury to the right leg. The claimant’s solicitors sought to persuade the court that an appropriate uplift for this injury was £2,800.
The claimant’s medical evidence consisted of a GP report which was obtained at 1 month and 11 day post-accident. When considering loss of amenity, the claimant alleged that he had been absent from work for 3 days, his sleep had been moderately restricted and his ability to lift heavy items affected. There was nothing to suggest any of these restrictions were as a result of the injury to the knee. This was an important part of the defendant’s submissions and, using the methodology as set out in the Court of Appeal judgment in Rabot v Hassam, the judge assessed the non-tariff injuries at £1,200. Allowing for an adjustment when adding the tariff injuries, the judge arrived at a global figure of £1,400 for general damages.
The court also found that the claimant had unreasonably failed to accept an early offer of intervention made by the defendant in respect of physiotherapy treatment and reduced the award for this in line with the defendant’s proffered rate. A claim for travel was also reduced as it was found that the claimant would have been able to undertake physiotherapy at a closer venue had the defendant’s offer been accepted. This was a staggering reduction from a 44 mile round trip to 15 miles.
In the ever evolving landscape of mixed tariff injuries, it is vitally important that defendants consider the detail of the medico–legal evidence in each individual case and the distinct loss of amenity (or lack of) that stems from non-tariff injuries. If no such separate loss of amenity is found, this should be reflected in the award for the non-tariff injury. This case also reiterates the benefit to insurers of early and timely intervention in bringing down the cost of all aspects of the claim.