[2008] LTL 10.09.08

Court considers valuation of claim following serious brain injury; correct multiplier is from Table 1 of the Ogden Tables

The Claimant had been riding his motorcycle when the Defendant changed lanes in his car on the motorway into the Claimant’s path, causing him to lose control of the bike and collide into the central reservation. Liability admitted. As a result of the accident the Claimant suffered severe injuries including amputation of his right arm at the shoulder and fractures of the pelvis and hip. He was left with permanent disabilities with no prospect of returning to paid employment.

At the time of the accident, the Claimant had been a Detective Chief Superintendent with the Police Force with a strong likelihood of promotion to the rank of Commander or Assistant Chief Constable. In assessing damages, one of the issues was selecting the appropriate multiplier. The Claimant’s life expectancy had been reduced by five years.

Held: The correct multiplier was 18.76 using Table 1 (multipliers for pecuniary loss for life with allowance for projected mortality), rather than Table 28 (multipliers for pecuniary loss for term certain). Where the court had determined how long a Claimant could be expected to live, based upon medical evidence, the chances of dying earlier or living longer than the predicted date had already been taken into account. Taking mortality into account when determining the multiplier would therefore amount to double discounting. However, in this case the court had only decided how much the Claimant’s pre-morbid life expectancy had been shortened by. Table 1 was therefore the appropriate table and in calculating the correct multiplier, the Claimant’s reduced life expectancy was added to his real age.

Comment: This judgment, involving a serious brain injury to a relatively young and successful man, addresses a number issues relevant to those dealing with the quantification of higher value claims.

In relation to the multiplier, difficulties arose because of the nature of the evidence of the medical experts in relation to life expectancy. In other cases it may be more straightforward to ask experts how long they expect a claimant to live, as opposed to by how much their life expectancy has been reduced.

Another issue of interest was the claim for care. Despite evidence from the Claimant and his wife that their marriage will survive, the judge found that the likelihood of this related to the extent to which the pressures on the wife were relieved by the provision of outside care, and assessed damages accordingly.