Smith v Moore & Anor [2014] QDC 273 Ryrie DCJ 03/12/2014

In May 2011, a bicycle rider who was sprung from his cleats and thrown over his handlebars to bounce once before landing on his back in Boundary Street West End was fortunate not to have been struck by other vehicles while writhing on the roadway.

Andrew Moore had pulled into a parking space and a moment earlier opened his driver’s door into which triathlete Aaron Smith collided. He was ambulanced to the Mater hospital for surgery to his left hand where he remained for four days.

Smith was a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer engaged in the modification of an Airbus A330 into a RAAF air-to-air refueller.

He decided to seek compensation from Moore, whose CTP insurer readily admitted fault for the accident.

On return to that job, his hand had gave him trouble from pain especially on bumping the broken index finger and loss of strength. A back injury had also persisted and was aggravated by exertion and the confined spaces work on aircraft.

Long periods of sitting e.g. doing keyboard work to complete his university qualification to become a registered land valuer also impacted on his injuries.

Smith’s intention was to pursue a career in valuation as his livelihood and do aircraft maintenance for extra income on weekends and during annual holidays. There was of course always the option of falling back on his aircraft work as a full-time occupation if required at any time.

His medical history included extensive pre-accident consultations for lower back complaints including two work-related claims and also excruciating back pain from a touch football incident about two months post-accident.

Against that background and the absence of any medical consultations that recorded his mention of a back injury until the day after the football incident orthopaedic specialist Simon Journeaux concluded that there was no connection between those symptoms and the Boundary St accident.

District Court Judge Julie Ryrie preferred Journeaux’s interpretation to that of colleague John Pentis. She also concluded that the unrelated back injury was likely prevent him returning to aircraft engineering, at least full-time.

But there was no question his execution of the intricate work required on aircraft which Her Honour agreed was something he would have done at least part-time had the accident not have occurred would suffer from the hand injury.

She awarded $50k as the measure of loss based on aircraft work he would have done on 5 full weekends and two full weeks per year, for 10 years.

Total damages were $67k.

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