Appeal court rejects 'double compensation' injury case

Brazier v Wolverhampton County Council (Court of Appeal - 14 December 2007)

The claimant aggravated a pre-existing back injury while working as a carer in a care home run by the defendant. She was redeployed on light duties and then retired on the grounds of ill health. She later suffered a second accident unrelated to her work, which further aggravated her back condition.

It was accepted at trial that, but for the accident, she would have been able to continue working for four-and-a-half years and that her accident had made her incapable of continuing her employment. It was also accepted that she would have had a residual earning capacity no less than when she was a carer, if not for the second accident.

The claimant gave credit for earnings and sick pay she received but claimed the payments back on the basis that if she did not have the accident, she would have received this money in any event when her back condition became symptomatic four-and-a-half years later. At first instance this was accepted by the court. The defendant appealed.

At the appeal, the court concluded that the judge had got it wrong. The claimant had been compensated for the shortfall in her wages from the date of the accident until the date of the second accident. Any losses thereafter were the result of the second accident not the first.

The claimant put an alternative case. She should be entitled to one year's sick pay, which she would have received as a result of the second accident but did not as her sick pay had been exhausted by the first. This was also rejected. Any sick pay lost during that period was again the result of the second accident, not the first.

COMMENT

This appeal provides a useful authority for rejecting 'double compensation' where the employer has made ill health payments and there has been an intervening accident. - David Armstrong, BLM London.

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