Motorbike rider receives $85k


Damages – Assessment of damages in tort – Personal injury – Income loss and loss of earning capacity


On 22 December 2016, the first Defendant pulled out of a shopping centre car park and drove in front of the Plaintiff who was riding his motorcycle. The Plaintiff was knocked off his motorcycle and was later diagnosed with fractured nasal bones together with a nasal breach and chin laceration.

The second Defendant as insurer accepted liability for the accident. The issue at trial was the assessment of the Plaintiff’s damages.  

Relevantly, the Plaintiff was a highly qualified university graduate with his education culminating in a Doctor of Philosophy from the Queensland University of Technology in March 2014.  He was employed in various teaching roles from 2007 to 2016.  The Plaintiff, however, also had a relevant criminal history which culminated in 11 offences substantially related to breaches of domestic violence and release conditions.  Ultimately, the Plaintiff’s teaching registration was not renewed in or around December 2017 by the Suitability to Teach Committee of the Queensland College of Teachers.

The Plaintiff’s personal circumstances, including pre-existing mental health issues were of significant relevance.

In the claim, the Plaintiff (who was an unrepresented litigant) alleged that as a result of the accident, he suffered the following injuries:


(a)        a head injury including post-concussive syndrome;

(b)        a cervical spine injury; and

(c)        facial injuries.

The Plaintiff’s claim stated that in consequence of the injuries and the impediment which they caused to his working, social and recreational activities, the Plaintiff suffered a psychiatric condition diagnosed as depressive disorder.

The second Defendant accepted that the Plaintiff suffered a cervical spine injury and the facial injuries, however, submitted that the evidence did not support a finding that the Plaintiff suffered a post-concussive syndrome.

A significant issue at trial was whether the Plaintiff’s psychiatric sequelae was causally linked to the circumstances of the accident involving the first Defendant or whether it was a pre-existing condition causally independent, not sounding in damages.



Wilson J, decision delivered 15 March 2024. Judgment for the Plaintiff in the sum of $85,466.56.


In her Judgment her Honour noted the Plaintiff’s pleaded case identified his psychiatric injuries as being the dominant injury.  Her Honour disagreed finding that, on the evidence, the Plaintiff was not presently suffering from post-concussive syndrome and his present mental condition was not caused by the accident.  However, her Honour was satisfied that the Plaintiff suffered, for a period of time after the accident, an exacerbation to his pre-existing mood condition. 

An assessment from a Consultant Neurologist gave a 12 per cent, whole-of-person impairment which would accord an ISV of 12, however, her Honour further found there should be a 25 per cent uplift to reflect the level of adverse impact caused by the Plaintiff’s multiple injuries, including his cervical spine injury, his facial injuries and the aggravation of his mental health issues, which resulted in an ISV of 15 and accordingly awarded general damages in the sum of $25,800.

The Plaintiff’s past economic loss was assessed at a global figure of $40,000 (based off his 2015 taxable income) with interest calculated at $5782.56.  In doing so, her Honour found that, inter alia, the Plaintiff was not employed and there was no evidence there was a job to go to at the date of the accident.  Her Honour held there may have been some incapacity to work for a period of time as a result of the accident, however, other stressors took over which led to the deterioration of the Plaintiff’s mental condition.  There was also a brief incapacity related to his physical injuries.

The Plaintiff’s past loss of superannuation was assessed at $3884.  The Plaintiff pleaded future economic loss of $2,880,000, however, her Honour was not satisfied there was any evidence to support this claim.  Her Honour’s preferred medical evidence stated the Plaintiff’s injuries did not have any effect on his employment other than for an immediate post-injury phase.

The balance of the award of $85,466.56 was made up of past and future special damages/medical treatment.

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