Large Compensation Payout – $1.7 Million

In a recent decision given by the New South Wales Court of Appeal in McManus v Murrumbidgee Local Area Health Network[2006] NSWSC 1347 Justice Harrison ordered that the Plaintiff recover from the Defendant damages in an amount of $1,785,498.00 together with costs.

Circumstances

The matter involved a claim for medical negligence. The Plaintiff sued for damages for nervous shock following the death of her son. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant had failed to properly monitor her labour and to manage her anti-natal period and as a result of this her unborn child soon died after birth, in circumstances that could and should have been avoided by an earlier Caesarean intervention.

Liability Admitted

When the matter proceeded to a hearing the insurers for the Defendant had admitted liability in full and the claim proceeded by way of an assessment of damages only. There was medical evidence given by both the Plaintiff and the Defendant and a number of joint reports were prepared by doctors on both sides.

The concluded view from all medical specialists was that the Plaintiff was seriously unwell and that the cause of her condition was unquestionably due to the Defendants negligence. The Plaintiff was seen to have developed severe symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her symptoms were compounded by the development of alcohol dependency. She was diagnosed as having an adjustment disorder with major depression which had become chronic in duration. It had affected every aspect of her life and her prospects of improvement in the future were very limited.

Court Award

The court awarded an amount of $356,500.00 for general damages for pain and suffering. This is one of the largest awards given for this head of damage in Australia. In addition to this the court awarded large amounts of compensation for both past and future lost income, past and future treatment and past and future domestic assistance.

The Plaintiff, at the delivery of judgement, was 37 years of age. The findings from the court was that the injuries she had suffered from were of a catastrophic nature. She was no longer able to function properly. She was unable to work or hold down any type of gainful employment. Similarly the relationship with her husband had deteriorated and she was no longer able to undertake simple household and domestic chores.

The case shows that by obtaining expert and proper medical opinions about a person’s condition and their losses, substantial compensation claims can be bought and insurers can be held accountable for the actions of Defendant’s when it is clear that their actions are the sole source of catastrophic injuries suffered by an individual.