Late last week the Queensland Supreme Court awarded a former electrician in excess of $1.28 million in damages for injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle accident on 1 July 2011.

Joshua Martin had been working for decades as an electrician when he suffered moderate injuries to his neck and lower back in a motor vehicle accident. As a result of the accident, Mr Martin has been unable to work as an electrician, and has struggled to find other employment.

The judgment by Justice Duncan McMeekin is considered to be the highest in any jurisdiction in Australia for a non-catastrophically injured electrician.

The decision highlights how important it is to ensure that injured people are not restricted in being able to pursue recovery of adequate compensation caused by the negligence of others; in this case, the driver of the other vehicle involved in Mr Martin’s accident.

Cale Fryer, Senior Associate with Hall Payne Lawyers, acted for Mr Martin. Mr Fryer noted that had Queensland had in place thresholds similar to those in place in other states then Mr Martin would have most probably been denied his right to seek compensation.

“This seemingly moderate injury has had a very significant adverse impact upon his ability to earn income in his chosen trade. Even a 5% threshold (if it was in place) would most probably have meant that my client would not have been able to pursue his right to seek compensation due to the negligence of the other driver” Mr Fryer said.

The case highlights the difference between the concept of assessment of physical impairment (which is based on a strict medically based criteria) and that of ‘disability’ which demonstrates how that physical impairment adversely impacts on the injured person’s life, in particular his or her ability to earn income following injury.

“We have a well funded and fair compulsory-third-party (motor vehicle) insurance scheme in place in Queensland, and this case highlights the importance of keeping it that way”, he said.

“My client can now get on with trying to get his life back together, and whilst this award won’t relieve him of the many challenges he will continue to face going forward, it will allow him to obtain a reasonable quality of life, which has been denied him since the accident”