Mullins v Gray (Court of Appeal - 28 October 2004)
The claimant sustained a whiplash injury as a result of a rear-end shunt, and she claimed damages for the injury. At the time of the accident, the claimant suffered psychiatric illness in the form of anxiety and depression and this had heightened her pain and suffering.
At first instance, the trial judge awarded £6000 general damages for the whiplash injury. They justified the small award by stating that although the claimant's level of suffering had been "appalling" and exacerbated by pre-existing depression and anxiety, no recognised psychiatric condition had been identified.
The Court of Appeal held that the trial judge had erred in law by stating that a recognised psychiatric condition had to be present in order to award damages for a physical injury which had been exacerbated by a psychiatric condition.
Lord Justice Longmore reiterated the fact that the claimant had only claimed for her physical injury and not her psychiatric condition; therefore, a recognised psychiatric condition did not have to be evidenced by the claimant.
The claimant was entitled to be compensated fully for her injuries regardless of what it was which caused her heightened perception of pain. A general damages award of £20,000 was substituted.
COMMENT: The 'eggshell skull' principle remains fully intact, with no medical evidence required as to a claimant's medical condition where that merely affects the level of physical injury. - Helen Grimberg, BLM London.
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