Car crash pay-out quashed for Grafton woman

NRMA Insurance has won the right to a re-evaluation of damages paid to a Grafton driver injured in a car crash caused by one of the company's customers in 2010.

Sharon Pate's car was t-boned at an intersection and pushed more than 30m before colliding with a give way sign and trapping her inside.

She worked full-time as a property manager before the crash, as well as farming rabbits on the side in partnership with her husband.

Her employment switched to part-time after the accident, which, according to assessors, caused her 5% whole person impairment for neck injuries and 8% impairment for psychiatric injuries.

The Motor Accidents Authority found Ms Pate should be paid $120,073 for past loss of income, $405,572 for future income loss, and total damages of $828,141.

NRMA sought for the decision to be quashed, arguing the assessor's projection of $200,000 losses from the future income of the Pates' rabbitry was excessive.

Its past losses were also up for debate.

The court heard the couple had intended to expand the rabbitry to be able to sell about 2000 rabbits a month.

"However, fate took a further hand," the assessor found.

"In that three months after the accident, the rabbitry suffered an outbreak of myxomatosis, which killed the majority of the stock in the rabbitry, and many of those that survived were rendered infertile by the disease."

Mrs Pate's husband tried to maintain and revive the rabbit-breeding venture, but discovered it was a "two-person job" and eventually shut it down.

The NRMA argued the rabbitry's supposed future losses were speculative, and there were issues over whether it was intended to be an income-earning venture or just a hobby, and that its viability was dubious.

NSW Supreme Court Justice Monika Schmidt found the Motor Accidents Authority assessor had considered "the economic impact of the physical and psychiatric injuries which Mrs Pate had actually suffered".

However, she found the assessor had failed to properly understand NRMA's original arguments and ordered the decision to be quashed and reassessed at a later date. - ARM NEWSDESK



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