What follows are some unusual cases that illustrate how the law of negligence operates. We have changed people’s names and locations for privacy reasons but otherwise the essential facts are very real.
Car Accident – Resulting Stoke following Treatment for Whiplash some years after Car Accident – Causation
Wally from Woodridge had a motor accident in Springwood that injured his neck. It seemed like a simple traffic accident resulting in a case of whiplash when another car ran into the rear of Wally’s car. The whiplash required extensive medical treatment over several years. This included massage, medications, physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment.
The chiropractic treatment included manipulation of Wally’s neck. This resulted in an uncommon complication – Wally had a stroke. The important fact was this: Wally was seeking treatment for his whiplash injury that he suffered in the road accident. In this way, he was able to claim compensation damages from the motor vehicle insurance company for the effects of the stroke that occurred years after the traffic accident, in addition to the injuries that occurred at the time of the car accident.
Wally was able to prove “causation” – an element of the cause of action known as negligence.
Work Accident –  Psychological Injury as well as Physical Injury – Foreseeable Injury – Damages
Louise from Newmarket had a repetitive strain injury at her work in the Brisbane City caused by her duties as a typist. She had a good work history with very few days off work for many years. The work injury restricted her ability to work for several months and then Louise returned to work part time. She found being unable to perform her full time normal working hours upsetting. Eventually, she was diagnosed as suffering the workplace injuries of anxiety and depression which then made her unable to work at all for a considerable period of time. Louise was able to claim for the effects of the psychological injury even though it developed many months after the initial injury. Her employment had still been the cause of her health issues.
It was “foreseeable” for the purpose of the law of negligence that Louise’s psychological injury might occur in the manner in which it did in her workplace.
It is very common that people suffer a physical injury, for example to their back or arms or legs, and also suffer a psychological injury, such as anxiety & depression. Often, the psychological injury comes on later and sometimes may be more debilitating than the physical injury. It is always worthwhile discussing with your Family and Friends if they have noticed any changes in your personality since an injury and to see your Doctor regularly.
Seeing your health providers regularly will assist with the assessment of your “damages” – another element of negligence.
Medical Negligence – Failure to Diagnose Cancer – False Negative on Pathology Results – Duty of Care
Glen of Redcliffe went to his local Doctor at Kippa-Ring with a persistent soreness in his throat. He had never smoked. A biopsy was taken and sent for testing with a pathologist. The pathology report incorrectly said that Glen was not suffering from cancer. In fact, he did have cancer. The disease progressed for twelve months before the error was noticed and Glen’s medical condition was by then much worse. He had to undergo very serious surgery that he could have avoided if he was properly treated twelve months prior. Glen’s general health suffered greatly as well and he faced a reduced life expectancy.
This was a sad case for Glen. Anyone would prefer their health. The law of compensation aims to put a person, in so far as money can, into the same position they would have been in if the damage they suffered had not occurred. In this case, Glen received a very substantial payout, in today’s money well over a seven figure sum.
Glen’s health providers breached their “duty of care” that the law says they owed to Glen because of the Doctor – Patient relationship.
Public Liability – Fall from Monkey Bars at School – Failure to Supervise – Duty of Care
Sarah from Mitchelton was a young primary student at a local school in Everton Hills. She was playing before school and a lot of children wanted to use the monkey bars at the same time. Usually, the school always had a teacher supervising the play area in which the monkey bars were situated. The teacher would ensure not too many children got on the monkey bars at the same time. This morning, the teacher was not present. Sarah fell to the ground and broke her arm after another student pushed her in the back to keep going – Sarah was “stuck” behind a queue of other children.
Instructions were taken from Sarah’s parents. A “litigation guardian”, usually a parent, must give instructions for anyone under eighteen years of age. Sarah’s case was made out upon the failure of the school to ensure that the children were supervised in the play area at all times as the pushing and shoving that occurred on the bars between the children would have likely been avoided if a teacher were present.
Sarah was able to establish her case through the school’s breach of its “duty of care” that the law says the school owed to Sarah because of the School – Student relationship.