HHJ Freeland QC awarded the Claimant an enhanced three year handicap award at a two day trial in respect of the quantum of his claim for damages arising out of a coach crash in France, rejecting the analysis of Jackson LJ in Billett V MOD  EWCA Civ 773 that such awards range from between 6 months and two years of net earnings at the date of trial, and preferring the analysis set out in the leading textbook on such claims. The Claimant suffered ongoing low level back pain following four undisplaced spinal fractures, which made factory work very difficult for him when he tried it. He was 29 at the date of trial. He had persevered in bar work and kitchen work, which is what he did before the accident, and he had actually earned more after the accident than before it. He was found to be within the definition of disabled for the purpose of the Equalities Act 2010. However given that he had remained in his employment for five years eight months before the trial, the court felt that an award using the disability multiplier would overstate his loss as it would estimate it at a sum well into six figures. Having considered whether a discounted disability multiplier would provide the answer the court determined that a maximum handicap on the labour market award should be made. The Defendant’s contention that there was no handicap on the labour market was dismissed. The Defendant has not appealed this decision but it is a useful case confirming that the range of awards on a conventional basis is from 6 months to three years net earnings. The fact that the Claimant has kept working for as long as five years 8 months after the accident, earning more than he was earning at the date of the accident, is no bar to an award, although it is relevant to whether the disabled multipliers are used.
David Rivers was instructed by Howe and Co Solicitors for the Claimant.
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