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Cassell v Riverside Health Authority [1992] PIQR Q168

QUANTIFICATION OF DAMAGES – LOSS OF EARNING CAPACITY

Facts

The claimant had been injured at birth due to the negligence of the defendant health authority, which had been responsible for the care of his mother during pregnancy and delivery. The disabilities caused by this meant that he was unable to work throughout his life. His family members had excelled academically and had enjoyed highly successful careers in well paid professional jobs. It was considered highly likely that the claimant would have had similar abilities and would also have enjoyed such a career but for his disabilities.  At the age of 8, the claimant sought to recover damages in negligence from the defendant for his loss of earning capacity.

Issue

The principle question for the Court of Appeal was the correct approach to the assessment of damages for child claimants who had not had the opportunity for any career.

Held

The Court held that the abilities and earning capacity of the claimant 's family members should be taken into account in determining the likely earning capacity of the claimant which had been lost as a result of the defendant 's negligence. The ability of the family was indicative that the claimant was likely to possess ‘artistic and entrepreneurial genes’, which should be taken into consideration in determining the multiplicand for the quantification. In this case, a figure over twice the national average wage was used to calculate the child claimant’s loss of earning capacity.


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