Published in Lawtel issue 19 may 2018
For Elenor Fleming
M v ERS CLAIMS LTD (2018)
Total Damages: £1,361 (£1,361 RPI)
Trial/settlement date: 23/3/2018
Judge: DDJ Masheder
Age at trial: 96 PSLA: £1,350 (£1,350 RPI)
Type of Award: Court Award
Court: Liverpool County Court
Age at injury: 93
The claimant, a 96-year-old woman, received £1,361 for the specific phobia she suffered for two months after being involved in a road traffic accident in April 2015. She suffered an exacerbation of a pre-existing condition and symptoms included intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety and distress.
Road Traffic: On 10 April 2015 the claimant (C) was travelling as a passenger in a vehicle being driven by her son when it was hit by a motorcycle whose driver was insured by the defendant (D). The vehicle carrying C had been slowing down to turn right and the motorcycle was driving in the opposite direction and overtaking vehicles when the collision occurred. The motorcycle driver collided with the front driver’s side of the vehicle carrying C.
C sustained injury and brought an action against D alleging that the driver was negligent in failing to drive safely and brake in sufficient time.
Injuries: C suffered psychological injuries.
Total injury duration: 2 months
Effects: C had pre-existing psychological problems which were exacerbated by the accident. As a result of the accident she experienced recurrent intrusive thoughts about the accident; nightmares; visual flashbacks; avoidance of travel; disturbed sleep; repetitive intrusive thoughts; distress, particularly about the harm which potentially might have occurred to her son. The symptoms did not satisfy the full criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder or acute stress disorder. She was diagnosed as having suffered, for two months, a specific phobia in relation to anxiety with nightmares and avoidance and travelling long distances. The anxiety was particularly around motorcycles which was an exacerbation of a pre-existing condition.
Prognosis: It was recommended that C complete a course of eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing, to aid recovery from the nightmares and intrusive thoughts. It was believed that, from the commencement of this treatment, she would recover within three to six months. However, C refused to complete the treatment or to be reassessed with the clinical psychologist and forensic psychologist as she believed that she would again be hospitalised under the Mental Health Act 1983, as she had been previously, or that the treatment would be of a similar nature to that used previously. The clinical psychologist and forensic psychologist believed that, without C attending the recommended treatment or re-assessment her recovery would be limited but that frequent travel practice on a recreational basis would assist in the recovery of symptoms and nightmares and intrusive thoughts would resolve approximately 24 months from the date of the accident.
Court Award: £1,361 total damages
Background to damages: It was noted that, before the accident, C had suffered mood disturbance and generalised anxiety. The clinical psychologist and forensic psychologist noted events in C’s life which had a contributing factor to the exacerbation caused by the accident, namely: C’s son being removed from his parents’ care at a young age due to domestic abuse; C previously being involved in a collision as a pedestrian hit by a motorcycle; a long-standing history of low mood and anxiety which had been treated using electric shock treatment and two hospitalisations under the Mental Health Act 1983.
The DDJ accepted that the diagnosed specific phobia in the absence of physical injuries was sufficient and stated that Nicholls v Rushton (1992) Times, June 19 did not apply.
Breakdown of General Damages: Pain, suffering and loss of amenity: £1,350; Interest: £11.
Simmons v Castle  EWCA Civ 1288 10 per cent uplift: applied.
Christopher Marriott instructed by Express Solicitors (Manchester) for the claimant.
This Quantum Report was provided courtesy of Elenor Fleming of Express Solicitors, solicitors for the claimant.
Document No. AM0203332