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Samuels v Benning

27 May 2002
The issues

Road traffic – PTSD – future loss – mitigation.

The facts

The Claimant was injured in an RTA in November 1995. He suffered head injuries and soft tissue injuries to neck and back, together with an undisplaced fracture of the right acetabulum and a fracture of the right superior pubic ramus. He also suffered PTSD with impaired memory and concentration and personality change. He returned to work eventually on light duties, but his employment was terminated in July 1996. Liability for the accident was not in issue. At Trial the Judge awarded £20,000.00 for general damages, just under £46,000.00 for past losses and £920.00 for future loss of earnings. The Judge found that the Company for which the Claimant worked would have been taken over and that the Claimant was likely to have stayed in the new Company’s employment until July 1999 approximately. The Judge found that the Claimant had had sufficient time to re-train for a new job, but that all he had done was enrol on a degree course which was not likely to have given him the chance of doing what he apparently wanted to do, namely teach. The Judge found that the Claimant should have looked for a less ambitious course, since he had only ever done manual work.

The Claimant Appealed.

The decision

1. The Judge was entitled to take the view he did of the Claimant’s likely future employment.

2. Whilst the Court saw there was some force of the Defendant’s argument with regard to lack of mitigation, the Court had to bear in mind that the Claimant was an innocent victim and that he had suffered a personality change evidenced by evidence from a Clinical Psychologist, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, a Pain Management Consultant and a Consultant Neurologist. He was therefore always going to be disadvantaged on the open labour market. A lump sum was appropriate – of £35,000.00 (a figure of just under 3 times the figure which the Court of Appeal recognised was reasonable for the Judge to find that the Claimant would have earned on an annual basis).

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