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Appeal finds truck driver injury payout miscalculations

Calculations in original discretionary judgment seen as 'unreasonable'


A truck driver will receive nearly $1 million in injury compensation after successfully appealing the original calculation.

Daniel Peebles was awarded $764,345.12 by the Brisbane Supreme Court in early 2020 but the final figure becomes $967,052.92 after the Court of Appeal accepted errors over the driver’s total economic loss.

Peebles, then 32 years old, became ‘permanently incapacitated’ 2014 while driving for Kurtz Transport, due primarily to company negligence in providing a truck with a defective seat.

A pre-existing back condition was factored in to the original decision, with a 50 per cent discount applied to the payout.

The original decision can be read here

While the Court of Appeal accepted the original discount on future earnings due to Peebles’ condition possibly preventing him from future work, it found the same discount on past economic loss should not have applied.

“The application of the same discount rate to the appellant’s pre-trial loss is a different matter, for at least two reasons,” Judge McMurdo says.

“Firstly, in this respect the appellant’s health and circumstances over the relevant period are known, so that it is known that many of the things which might have affected the earning of income in that period did not occur.

“Secondly, the period in question here is about five years compared with the 29 years which was used to calculate the future economic loss.”

“His Honour simply applied ‘the 50 per cent discount … previously adopted’. In my respectful opinion, that was an error.

“A much lower discount rate had to be applied to this component than that for future economic loss.”

Past economic loss, including superannuation contributions, was re-assessed with a 10 per cent discount.

The panel of three judges also deemed it erroneous that future weekly earnings, calculated as $1,200, would end up being less than Peebles’ pre-trial earnings.

“It is curious that a different figure was used as the multiplicand for future economic loss from the amount $1,300, which the parties had agreed for the assessment of the appellant’s loss of income before the trial, without something being identifiable as an explanation for the difference.

“The parties were not bound by their agreement on that figure in making their respective submissions for future economic loss.

“Importantly, however, there was also the judge’s finding that there was a sufficient evidentiary basis for a loss of $1,300 per week.

“In my respectful opinion, the evidence having proved a weekly loss of that amount, it is that amount which should have been allowed.

“For that reason also, the assessment of damages must be revised.”

On that adjustment, future economic loss becomes $526,500 (from $486,000), and past economic loss increases from $174,200 to $313,560.00, with further adjustments to superannuation and interest.


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