The Claimant was working as a model maker on a short term placement at the offices of the Defendant’s firm of architects.
During the placement the Claimant severed her left index finger and dislocated her middle finger whilst using an unguarded circular saw. Her index finger was reattached but she was left with reduced grip strength a slight loss of movement.
Liability was admitted.
The court had to assess the extent of her loss of earnings to trial and beyond.
The Claimant had graduated with a first class honours degree in model making and media and she hoped to enter a career as a model maker in the theatre or in the performing arts.
At first instance the judge held that he was not satisfied as a matter of law or fact that the Claimant was a “disabled person”.
He was not satisfied that the Claimant had demonstrated that she would have been able to establish herself or would have been able to retain her position over a long period as a theatrical model maker.
He was not satisfied that the Claimant had proved what she would have done following the accident.
He felt that it would have been difficult for the Claimant to having maintained her career in her chosen field between the date of the accident and the trial in any event, in any event.
He accordingly decided to award loss of future earnings on a broad brush basis, applying the principle established in Blamire v South Cumbria Health Authority (1993) PIQR.
The Claimant appealed on the grounds that the judge should have found that the Claimant was ‘disabled’ and should have used the multiplicand/multiplier approach.
The Court of Appeal disagreed with the claimant and held that the trial judge had been entitled to reach the conclusion that there had been too many imponderables to have enabled him to hold what the likely career pattern and earning capacity of the Claimant would have been.
The evidence before the judge had entitled him to conclude that it would have been uncertain whether she would have succeeded in her chosen career, whether she would have remained in work throughout her working career, what the levels of pay would have been etc.
The Court further found that the figures reached by the judge regarding the loss of fast earnings could not be regarded as outside the reasonable range of figures that has been produced on the evidence.
The multiplicand/multiplier methodology and the Ogden tables and guidance would normally be applied when awarding damages for future loss of earnings, unless the judge really has no alternative.
The judge first had to make findings on the likely path of the Claimant's future earnings if not the injury.
The burden was on the Claimant for both those issues.
The trial judge had not been satisfied that the Claimant had demonstrated that she would have been able to retain her position over a long period as a theatrical model maker, nor that she had proved that she would actually suffer a loss of earnings because of the accident.
He had been entitled to find that there were too many imponderables to enable him to hold what the Claimant's likely career pattern and earning capacity would have been.