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LTL 7/6/2006, Court of Appeal - Christopher Walker
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Where there was doubt as to the interpretation of medical evidence in a trial to assess damages for past and future loss of earnings in a personal injury claim it was vital to the claim that the evidence be clarified, and in order to do so the matter would be remitted for reconsideration.
The appellant employee (C) appealed against the level of an award made for loss of earnings in his personal injury claim against the respondent employer. C had suffered two accidents at work, at the time of which he already suffered from degeneration of a disc in his spine. The medical evidence stated that C's condition would have deteriorated without the accident and would have led to the protrusion of the disc, but that the injuries had accelerated the onset by three years. For three years following the accident C continued to work and received full pay save for the final three months. He then retired. Liability was admitted and C was awarded general damages and £1,250 for past and future loss of earnings. The judge held that C had carried on working and had only suffered a partial loss of earnings. C contended that the judge had erred and that he was entitled to the full loss of earnings for a three-year period as, but for the acceleration of the injury, he would have been able to continue working in full-time employment.
HELD: The judge's interpretation and application of the medical evidence in relation to the accelerated effect of the injuries was open to doubt. There was a divergence in the interpretation of the medical evidence and it was unfortunate that the expert was not called upon to clarify his report. It was vital that the evidence be clarified and, accordingly, the matter would be remitted for reconsideration.