Hiom v WM Morrison Supermarkets (Queens Bench Division 28 May 2010)
The Claimant, aged 37, sustained multiple injuries in a road traffic accident. Liability was admitted. The injuries included compound fractures of the tibia and fibula of his left leg. He underwent numerous operations due to non-union of the tibia, and he also suffered an infection. He was eventually fitted a 5-ring frame to hold the bone correctly and had residential rehabilitation.
The Claimants major claim was Special Damages for loss of earnings. He alleged he would have taken over his fathers business earning approximately 15,000 per annum. However, there were no Pre-Accident Earnings documents; the Revenue had no record after 1990; and it was likely the Claimant was in receipt of substantial benefits.
The Judge found that the Claimant had lied but, leaving that aside, he was satisfied he had worked part time, being paid in cash.
The Judge was not, however, satisfied that the fathers business was earning 15,000 per annum but nearer 5,000, and he allowed 3,500. The Defendant argued the Claimant was partly to blame for the time it took for his tibia to recover, as he postponed two operations. The Judge held the first postponement was not the Claimants fault, but the second was and reduced past losses by 6 months.
There was no mathematical basis upon which to assess future loss of earnings. The Judge felt the Claimant had unrealistic ideas about what he might do and awarded 2,000 to assist the Claimant with returning to work. The Judge did not accept the Claimant was disabled within the meaning of the Disability Discrimination Act, but because of his damaged leg, he would be disadvantaged in getting work.
Overall, the Judge concluded the Blamire Award of 25,000 was appropriate to reflect the disadvantage. The Blamire Award is appropriate where evidence shows that there is a loss of earnings, but there are too many uncertainties to adopt the conventional method to calculate compensation.
This case shows the Courts are still willing to compensate when a more conventional calculation is not possible. They will look past a patchy work history, lack of documentary evidence or pre-accident earnings and unrealistic expectations for future employment and use a global figure to reflect the Claimants disadvantage as a result of their injuries.